Eco-Tourists' Delight: Galapagos Tortoise Found Alive for First Time in 100 Years
We all love a good comeback story.
A species of giant tortoise that was previously thought to be extinct made a surprise appearance on the Galapagos island of Fernandina on Sunday. The century-old Fernandina Giant Tortoise was spotted during an expedition by the Giant Tortoise Restoration Initiative (GTRI).
The Fernandina Giant Tortoise is just one of 14 giant tortoise species that can be found on the Galapagos Islands. However, a majority of these are considered endangered after centuries of being over-hunted for food and oil. While the last time this tortoise species was seen alive was in 1906, experts on site believe that our old girl isn't alone on the island. A spattering of evidence of other Fernandina Giant Tortoises (tracks, scents, feces and bite marks) have been seen around the island for years — including an unconfirmed sighting in 2009.
Genetic studies will be carried out on the tortoise to confirm that she belongs to the Fernandina Island species, Washington Tapia, GTRI director and expedition leader, said to CNN. For now, conservationists have relocated her to a breeding center on Santa Cruz.
Located off the coast of Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean, the Galapagos are made up of a 19-island archipelago. While you can't visit the Fernandina Giant Tortoise at the moment, don't be deterred. Aside from the vast array of tortoises, there are plenty of other unique animal species inhabiting to the island such as iguanas, sea lions and the famous finches that were studied by Darwin himself.