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Giant Tortoises are some of the most famous inhabitants of the Galapagos Islands. And, they are indeed giant. When I stood next to one male, it came up to my shoulder. When we visited a reserve on the island of Santa Cruz, we were able to see a couple of dozen living in the wild. The area they lived in was a bit muddy so we all put on tall rubber boots and hiked across a large field to visit them in their home. I spent about 45 minutes walking around with one tortoise named Pepe just watching him eat grass and lumber around. It felt a little like hanging out with ET the way Pepe would occasionally extend his long neck to look up at me with his soulful eyes, then go back to eating his way across the field.

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My youngest daughter was an amateur photographer even then. In the top photo here, she is standing up to her ankles in mud taking photos of a group of tortoises wallowing in a cool stream bed. The lower picture is one of her photos from that day.

Fun facts about Galapagos tortoises:

  • There are two main types of giant tortoise shells – dome-shaped and saddle-shaped. The saddle-like shape of some of the tortoises shells is where the name Galapagos comes from. Galapago is an Old Spanish word for saddle.
  • There are 11 species of giant tortoises still living in the Galapagos islands. There were at least 15 species when Charles Darwin visited the islands.
  • Humans are the greatest threat to the tortoises. Whalers, pirates, and explorers decimated many populations of tortoises. They ate them while on the islands, then took more to keep alive for future meals on the long trip back to Europe. The goats, rats, and dogs the sailors left behind further wiped out the tortoises food supply.
  • The different species of tortoises are noticeably different on the different islands. Charles Darwin took note of this divergence and used it as a jumping off point in his thoughts on evolution.

 

Would you like to be part of Midge & Snig’s adventure in the Galapagos? Want to have your name (or any name you choose) in my next book? From now until the end of April, everyone who follows my blog, signs up for my newsletter, or leaves a comment, will be entered in a drawing for the chance to name the cruise ship featured in the book.

This post in part of the AtoZ Challenge. Please click on the sunflower AtoZ icon in the sidebar to go to the official list of participating blogs. This year my theme is the Galapagos Islands. I am in the process of writing the first of my Midge & Snig mystery series set in the islands. In my research, I have come across a plethora of interesting facts and images. The vast majority of my research won’t get included in the book, but it’s fun to share what I’ve learned with you all.

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