Galapagos Turtles (tortoises) are the Symbol of the Galapagos Islands Archipelago...
Giant Turtles in Galapagos
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They live a long life. A giant Galapagos turtle named Harriet died at the age of 170 in the Australia Zoo in Queensland.
Scientists estimated her birth date in 1830 so it was considered as one of the oldest living animals on Earth. The scientific name for this unique animal in Galapagos is: Geochelone elephantopus.
The Galapagos tortoise is one of the most impressive and is the largest of all tortoises in the world. It can reach a size of up to six feet from head to foot.
Galapagos giant turtles are herbivorous they eat mainly grass, flowers, water ferns, leaves, prickly pear cactus and fruits.
They live in the highlands of the Galapagos Islands and during the rainy season the tortoises descend to feed on the grass from the plains. Galapagos turtles can survive for months without food or water.
The word Galapagos means Saddle in Spanish because of the shape of the Turtle's Shell. They can weight up to 500 lbs. More About the Meaning of the Word Galapago
When the Galapagos Islands were discovered in the 15 th century there were close to 300,000 turtles in the Islands.
But pirates and whalers during the 17th, 18th and 19th century hunted them for food and almost exterminated them.
Pinta Island located at the north was home to thousands of Galapagos turtles and it was a popular stop for pirates.
Turtles were a good source of meat for them. These animals could remain alive in a ship for months without food or water. This is why there are only around 18,000 turtles living in Galapagos today.
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There are 11 existing races of turtles, four are extinct. In the Galapagos there's a race named Pinta Island which is represented by only one turtle named Lonesome George, it weights 350 pounds and was found in the 1970s.
Up until now no new tortoises of this race have been born, making this turtle the last of his subspecies.
Galapagos turtles differ not only in size, but in other characters like the shape of its shells and the island to where they belong.
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Turtle species in the Galapagos Islands can be divided in domed and saddle-backed turtles.
The Saddle-back shell turtle have a curved shell front to allow their longer neck to reach food higher off the ground.
The Domed turtle inhabit in the highlands were vegetation is near the ground (usually in the highlands). They have shorter necks.
Turtles in Galapagos live an incredible slow and peaceful life.
In the morning they bask in the sun to warm up his body.
The "long day" for the giant turtles ends up in the afternoon at around 5 o'clock.
To keep warm, the turtles sleep surrounded by a dense brush or half submerged in mud.
The Galapagos National Park and Charles Darwin Research Station are working together to preserve Galapagos turtles and their environment.
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