Santa Cruz Island

Aug 10, 2018 - National Geographic Islander

Today we woke up at Academy Bay on Santa Cruz Island. After breakfast, we visited the town of Puerto Ayora where the Charles Darwin Research Station is located. This facility is famous for its giant tortoise captive breeding program and land iguanas. Here, we can see the different shapes of shells tortoises end up with after adapting to different environments. Dry islands produce a saddle shaped shell with yellow skin, while wet islands produce a dome shaped shell with dark skin. After the visit, we walked the town and later took a bus to the highlands where we visited a lava tunnel as well as a coffee and sugarcane plantation.

We had lunch at a farm next to the giant tortoise reserve where we saw plenty of tortoises roaming the fields as if they were bison in North America. Tortoises fill the role of the giant herbivore in this ecosystem. When we came back, we had the option of visiting the town of Puerto Ayora or going back to National Geographic Islander where a native band would give us a concert after dinner. What a great day!

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About the Author

Fabian Bucheli


Fabian Bucheli studied at the German School in Quito, graduated from the University of California with a bachelor of science in administration, and earned a master’s degree in international management from Thunderbird School of Global Management in Arizona. He has studied in Germany, France, Belgium, and Austria and is fluent in German, French, English, and Spanish. He has always been in love with nature and conservation. Explaining abstract concepts became second nature as a teaching assistant in biodiversity and evolution (University of Nevada, Las Vegas) while working towards a PhD in environmental risk management.

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