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The Galapagos Tortoises

The Galapagos giant turtle Weigh 270 kilograms, these big reptiles, slow-moving has few natural enemies, but they are threatened by the humans and the animals that they entered. This giant turtle is the reason why the Islands got the name Galapagos.

The giant turtles are only in Tortoises and in the atoll of Aldabra in the Indian Ocean. Weighing 270 kilograms, these big reptiles, slow-moving has few natural enemies, but they are threatened by the humans and the animals that they entered.

Subsequently their discovery in 1535, the Islands of Tortoises (Galapagos Islands) have been famed by their homonym the giant turtle (elephantopus of Geochelone). The word tortoise in Spanish resembles each other to seat of mounting and it refers to the shell, or it shells, of these enormous reptiles.

Between island to island, the giant turtles vary in their size and the form of their shells. With their shells, their long necks and members and a shell lifted before, they adapt well to the atmosphere of the lowest, drier islands. Although they prefer to eat fallen cactus and vegetation, when these are indisponibles, they should reach the leaves of the highest bushes. The biggest, dome-formed turtles are typical of islands of the highest lusher, where they fed in the grasses, other low plants and fallen fruits.

There are 14 subspecieses of turtles of Galapagos that were unwrapped of a common ancestor. Nine of these you evolved separately, in each island individual. The five following species in the big island of Isabela, each one by each volcano, it means 5 species in the island. Today 3 of these the subspecieses are extinct. Sadly, a subspecies 4, of the Island of Pinta, it is represented for only a male sourvivor, named Solitary George.

The giant turtles reach a maturity to 20 or 30 years. They die during the rainy station, usually between January and June. Then, between June and December, the females emigrate to the arid areas to nest. While they dig the hole with their back legs, a task that can take several hours, the female frequently urine to soften the earth. Between 2 and 20 eggs they are delivered, each one of the size of a tennis ball. After covering the nest, the females go to the mountainous regions, leaving the eggs for nesting during the next 4 to 8 months. The temperature of the nest determines the sex of the breedings, males grow with lower temperatures.

The young turtles leave the shell between November and April, taking one month to dig outside of the nest. These breedings weigh less than 1/100 of what they will weigh when they mature. The hawks are probably the only native predator of the young turtles. If they survive this difficult beginning they can live more than 150 years.

With the declaration of the Galapagos Islands as a National Park in 1959, the native fauna of the Islands became legally protected. Shortly after this, the Charles Darwin Research Station and the Galapagos Islands National park began the intensive efforts to take care of the populations of Galapagos turtles further on in danger with the establishment of captive servant's center in Santa Cruz.

The subspecies of the Espaņola island are a special case. Reduced to only 2 males and 12 females, almost no natural breeding was taking place, we disperse this way the island. Between 1963 and 1974, the turtles of the Espaņola island moved to the center. There, they put on all the eggs carefully in incubators until they leave the shell. The young turtles stay in the center until approximately 3 years, when they are quite big for a sure return. Through 1995, they had almost been returned 700 turtles from the Espaņola island to their island.

Some similar programs to protect other populations of turtles of the threat from introduced animals. The eggs are gathered of the natural nests and taken to the center for the incubation, raising and the eventual discharge. Today, almost 2,000 turtles have been returned to their origin island as a result of these efforts, and a second servant center opened up in the begining of the 90'sThis is single stocking battle, the elimination of animals entered it is also critical. From 1961, the eradication programs have concentrated on the wild pigs, goats, dogs and rats. These efforts are successful in some islandsArticle Search, but many serious problems still exist.

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Eric Castro Mattas chief editor of Posicionarte in Quito, Ecuador.

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