5/18 “What am I Going to Re-wear?”

Liz looked around the explosion of clothes in our room and said, “Hm.  What am I going to re-wear today?”

We had breakfast and then a 2.5 hr boat ride to Santa Cruz Island. We shared the boat with a mother and daughter who were going to Santa Cruz so the daughter – deaf in one ear – could get treatment.  Though they didn’t speak English, the mother was kind enough to offer a seasickness remedy to Lina (spray perfume in your hand and smell it to dissuade the nausea). That was a rough ride for our still-recovering-from-stomach-bug group.

Darwin Center

On land in Santa Cruz we loaded up on a bus and drove to the Darwin Center to hear more about the reintroduction do the tortoises onto the various islands of the Galapagos. There was a lot to learn about the differences in shells between different islands and the efforts to reestablish populations on each island.

Different species’ shells
Juvenile Tortoises

We met Lonesome George, who is the only living tortoise from Pinta Island and discovered in 1972, so he was at least 70 years old.  Maybe even 90. Initially he showed no interest in mating with the females in his den (was he gay? Asexual? Or just never knew how since he was alone for so long?), but eventually nests were dug.  Sadly, the eggs were sterile.  We asked if there was a way to extract sperm from a reptile: it can’t really be done, at least not the way mammals do it. The other option was electric stimulation. Per Pablo: “you attach the electrodes to the tortoise’s gonads, and zap zap PING!  You have sperm.”. Needless to say, no one cared to risk LG’s unique gonads. So Lonesome George may never be a dad and his tortoise DNA will go with him.  (Edited to add: George died one month after this entry, on 24 June 2012. I’m so glad I got the chance to see him.)

Lonesome George


Lonesome George’s harem

It was extremely hot that day, so many of us felt nauseated because of the outrageous heat. We walked back to town to eat lunch.  We had the option to hike for 50 mins to a gorgeous beach and shoreline. Liz and I opted for a nap.

Post Nap Sightseeing

Liz and I took some time to wander around town, shop, and watch the locals.

Ecovolley: the Ecuadorian sport – a higher net and a different ball
Someone was handing out birthday cake (we had some too), but we though maybe this guy shouldn’t eat so much of it.
Cool swing at playground

Dinner was on a balcony overlooking the water, then we went shopping for curios and artwork. We found some very gorgeous etched gourds and both bought one for ourselves.

Endemic Drinks
Liz on a Galapagos Tortoise