Saturday, June 2, 2018

Tales from the Galapagos: Puerto Ayora & the Darwin Research Station

This day's adventure included a visit to the Darwin Research Station and the town of Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz island. While open to visitors, the station is an active research center for the Galapagos islands and a large breeding center for tortoises.

Tortoise shells vary by species and are said to have evolved based on the type of vegetation available on their island of residence. The photo above is a dome shell and the one below is called a saddle back.

This tortoise would have come from an island where the vegetation was up high which is why his neck is so long and accounts for the saddle back shell shape.

All of the tortoises in this area were once 'pets' for locals around Ecuador. Before the islands were established as a national park, having a pet tortoise was cool and handed down through generations (tortoises can live to well over 100 years). This project is working to identify which islands these belong, rehabilitate them to live in the wild and then release them.

We then had some free time in town. Not much to see - mostly tourist shops selling t-shirts, but there was the occasional lovely view.

And then there was the fish market in the center of town. Note the sea lion waiting for handouts and the pelicans waiting for the sea lion to get full! Since all the animals are protected here, the locals just put up with them.

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