Friday, February 19, 2010

The Charles Darwin Research Center was established in 1960. It's four main functions are:
1. to provide scientific information
2. obtain funds from international organizations for conservation purposes.
3. help the National Park with educational programs
4. to educate Ecuadorian children.

At the research center we saw many tortoises separated by breed and island origin.

The young ones were separated from their elders. They don't reach sexual maturity until 20-30 years. The mating season is the wet season. Later on between February and May, the females begin their journey to the coast to look for a nesting spot. Egg laying lasts from June to December. The temperature of the nest while the eggs are incubating determines the sex of the offspring. Below 29 degrees centigrade, the egg produces a male; above that temperature the egg produces a female.
Some believe the oldest tortoise in the center to be 170 years old.

This picture is of "Lonesome George." He is the lone survivor of Pinta Island. A $10,000 reward was offerred to anyone who could locate a female of the same species but none were ever found. Lonesome George currently is living in his pen with two females that match closely his genetics, but so far he has not chosen to breed with them.

We saw lots of these marine iguanas on the rocks by the beach. In some areas they were thick.
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