The Galapagos Islands, a chain of volcanic islands off the coast of Ecuador are famous mainly for being home to many giant tortoises and sea turtle populations. This archipelago is one of the best places in the world to see these hard-shelled creatures. In fact, the islands were named after the giant tortoise!
Giant tortoises were once so abundant on the Galapagos archipelago of Ecuador that the Spanish sailors who explored the region named the islands after the old Spanish word “galápago”, used to describe the unique shape of the tortoises’’ shell.
Giant tortoises once inhabited most of the continents of the world and were able to thrive in various environments. Galapagos tortoises represent one of the two remaining wild groups of giant tortoises in the entire world.
These reptiles are among the longest-lived of all land vertebrates, the oldest on record lived to be 175. They are also the world’s largest tortoises, with some specimens exceeding five feet in length and reaching more than 500 pounds.
Although the islands were once thought to be home to at least 250,000 tortoises, only about 15,000 remain in the wild today. Therefore, many of the tortoise’s subspecies are listed as endangered or critically endangered.
Green Sea Turtles
The green sea turtle is only seen in a few places in the world, including Galapagos, where they nest. These turtles can weigh up to 299 pounds and reach four feet in length. Moreover, adults are herbivores that feed on seagrasses, seaweeds, algae, and marine plant life.
They can be found nesting in small numbers on Isabela Island, as well as in coastal waters around the archipelago, especially in places like Tintoreras. Check our blog Galapagos: What to see and where to see it for more details.
Green turtles are also considered an endangered species due to consumption of their eggs and meat, getting caught in fishing gear, plastic ingestion, and other factors.
The conservation status of the Galapagos Islands allows the existence of programs that contribute to preserving this species in their natural habitat. Ready to go and see the amazing tortoises and turtles of the Galapagos? Contact us!