Galapagos islands are named for the giant tortoises that lived on the islands. Galapagos comes from Spanish means saddle and refer to the tortoise shell. Galapagos tortoises are famous and recognized as the symbol of Galapagos islands.
Galapagos tortoises are the largest in the world with weights over 500 lbs and measuring of the shell 59 inches. They are slow moving, but the life can reach 150 years.
Galapagos tortoises are the key in Evolution theory by Darwin. It was believed that Galapagos tortoises come from a river mouth along the Pacific coast. Galapagos tortoises arrived in San Cristobal then spread throughout the Galapagos islands.
Galapagos tortoises eat grass and cactus fruit, flower and stem. Shortly after the rainy seasons, the Galapagos tortoises climb the mountain slopes to feed on grass surfaces. After the grass withers, Galapagos tortoises climb the mountain to feed on grasses of the moist pastures.
When the man arrived in Galapagos islands, the Galapagos tortoises are counted about 100,000. For thousands of years, Galapagos tortoise was unhampered by predators.
The whalers, pirates and the fishermen arrived in Galapagos island hunted Galapagos tortoises as a source of meat. They ate some vegetation and crushed tortoise eggs and soft shells of Galapagos tortoises.
When The Galapagos National Park was founded in 1969, the 11 remaining species of Galapagos tortoises were endangered.
To preserve the Galapagos tortoises species, the Charles Darwin Research Station established a project. They collected the Galapagos eggs from the island and brought to the Darwin Staion to be incubated and hatched. This project has been success, from the 11 species that were endangered, 10 species have been brought up to guarded level.
Galapagos tortoises come in three types that are known by the shape of the shell, the color and behaviour
Galapagos tortoises saddle-backed are found in the lower drier island.
Galapagos tortoise dome-shaped is found on the upper part of the islands. They have round shells, very short necks and limb. Galapagos intermediate is the third race that is a mix between the two.