Reporting back from the Galapagos
By Mary Ting
During winter break, I had the opportunity to be part of a twelve-day tortoise conservation-focused tour to the Galapagos Islands organized by Russell Burke, biology professor at Hofstra University. The group included a number of noted turtle scientists, graduate students and interested citizens. Luis Rodriguez (Champi), the No. 1-rated Galapagos National Park naturalist guide accompanied the group each day, providing invaluable insight and access.
The Galapagos are an archipelago of volcanic islands off of Ecuador. Due to their geographic isolation, the Galapagos Islands evolved with their original biodiversity intact. Naturalists today continue to be in awe of the vast number of endemic flora and fauna on the islands, made famous by Charles Darwin’s discoveries beginning in 1835. It is only on these islands that the evolutionary process can be made obvious to all. Darwin’s finches are known for their variations in beak sizes based on the available seed size, and differ widely on each island. Likewise, the shells of the giant Galapagos tortoises also vary in shape from island to island, forming different species. Ranging from dome to saddleback with variations in between, the shape of the shell and the length of the necks adapted to the available vegetation.
Read the full article at http://sustainabilityjjay.org/2015/03/reporting-back-from-the-galapagos/