Giant Tortoises and Marine Iguana - Third Report from Ecuador/Galapagos

Owen Mortner

Today we rose early to travel to Tortuga Bay, a vast, white-sand beach accessed through a string of cactus lined paths. After a hike through the heat, we cooled off in a still water inlet feeding into the Pacific. Miguel and Felipe led us on a kayaking expedition to catch a glimpse of the marine life near the warm water of the coves. Donning our snorkeling gear, we were rewarded with the colorful shapes of several native fish as well as a giant tortoise.

After eating lunch al fresco near our centrally located hotel, we travelled to the Charles Darwin Research Station, a preservation devoted to ensuring the longevity of Darwin’s legacy on the islands; the station is a living laboratory with habitats of ancient tortoises and iguanas as well as in-residence scientists and researchers. The station’s most famous inhabitant—a centenarian tortoise named Lonesome George—is now preserved behind glass. We met his succesor, known as “Super Diego” for his productivity in reproduction, after an informative talk by our tour guide. We had the chance to decompress and relax at the hotel before having a lively group dinner at a local restaurant. We finished the evening with a chance to shop along Santa Cruz’s lighted streets. Tommorow we’ll be catching an early boat to Isabella for another day of adventure.