AUTHOR Gabriel O’Rorke
Established in 2000, the aim of World Turtle Day is to celebrate turtles and tortoises around the globe and to raise awareness of their plight. The Galapagos Islands are home to two very special species, the Galapagos Green Sea Turtle and the Galapagos Giant Tortoise, both of which can be encountered during cruises on board three of our vessels – First Class Yacht Letty, and Luxury Yachts Origin and Theory.
The Galapagos Green Sea Turtle
The Green Sea Turtle is found in tropical and sub tropical waters – they love the coral reefs and nutrient rich waters which bathe them – hence why the Galapapos Islands are such a perfect habitat. They are supremely fast swimmers; their powerful flippers helping them whizz through the water at speeds of up to 35mph, yet they can also be found taking their time floating serenely around the reef – happy to be followed by an inquisitive snorkel and mask.
Sadly they face many threats and their global population numbers are falling. The modern day fishing industry poses significant danger as the turtles become tangled up in nets and tragically drown. Curious juveniles will try and eat almost anything – jellyfish are a firm favourite, but unfortunately there are too many plastic bags littering the ocean that resemble them, causing suffocation. Introduced mammals on the islands, such as cats and rats, raid nests and eat eggs and hatchlings before they’ve even had a chance of life.
The Galapagos Conservation Trust
It can feel challenging to celebrate these magnificent creatures whilst knowing the damage that humans have done, yet remarkable organisations such as The Galapagos Conservation Trust, supported by Ecoventura, are striving to make a difference. Not only is the GCT working to reduce the use of plastic within the archipelago they are also focussed on educating the local community about the danger of its use and eco alternatives that can be used in its place.
Since Green Turtles have been spotted off the coast of Floreana Island, the GCT have launched an initiative to eradicate the island of invasive species and restore it back to its original ecological state. The hope is that the original inhabitants, such as the Galapagos Green Sea Turtle, will once again thrive.
The Giant Galapagos Tortoise
Did you know that excluding Antarctica, Giant Tortoises once lived all over the world? Yet as the human race grew, they were hunted until extinction on land – managing to survive only on oceanic islands? Despite the challenging environmental conditions on the Galapagos Islands – such as the extreme heat of the burning equatorial sun, threats of draught or volcanic eruptions, the Giant Galapagos Tortoise has managed to adapt pretty well to its surroundings and make these islands its home.
The Charles Darwin Foundation set up its research station on
Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island and here Ecoventura guests are able to see the tortoises as tiny hatchlings as well as their full grown giant selves! Up in the highlands of Santa Cruz, Giant Tortoises roam in their natural habitat on the Moreno family farm, Las Primicias as well as other properties.
The Galapagos Biodiversity & Education for Sustainability Fund and its Efforts
Despite the positive effects of the captive breeding in the Galapagos, there are only about 15,000 Giant Tortoises left in the wild – globally. It’s vital we understand more about these historic creatures and their well being in order to safeguard their future. In partnership with the Charles Darwin Foundation, Ecoventura established The Galapagos Biodiversity & Education for Sustainability Fund (GBESF) in order to support several research and conservation projects within the archipelago.
Earlier this year, the fund embarked upon a new project – collecting 200 biological samples from the Giant Tortoise to understand how human practices and interaction with domestic animals may affect their health. Long days both in the field and the laboratory successfully generated some important findings – such as the discovery of antibiotic resistance in Giant Tortoises. Every little helps.
Together, Turtle and Tortoises are part of the order Testudines – which have lived on this planet for an incredible 200 million years, and it would be beyond tragic if we were responsible for an end to this spectacular reign. So how to help? If you want to actively support this threatened species as well as the efforts of The Galapagos Conservation Trust and
The Charles Darwin Foundation then why not adopt one of them for yourself? Happy World Turtle Day!