For the first time in one hundred years turtles are being born in the Ecuadorian island
Leer en Español: El renacimiento de las islas Galápagos
The black rat of the Pinzon Island was blamed for the near extinction of the Galapagos’ turtle. These animals started to eat the turtles’ eggs, along with the local doves, lizards, and snakes. This caused a reduction in the population of the native species. Experts think that these rodents arrived nearly 200 years ago with the first humans, most likely pirates and whalers, that disembarked in the Ecuadorian territory.
Back in 1965, a group of scientist from the Galapagos National Park decided to start a breeding program for giant turtles. The project helped breed 837 turtles and returned them to their habitat helping to keep the specie alive.
However, in 2012, scientist took it upon themselves to eliminate the black rodents. Thanks to said approach, the rat population started to decrease and, in 2014, experts declared the island “rat free”. Due to this, the first births of turtles became a reality.
Danny Rueda, Ecosystem director of Galapagos National Park, told EFE that rat potion was spread by helicopter among the 1,789 hectares of the Pinzon Island, which is part of the Galapagos’ archipelago.
Scientist identified a possible risk for the sparrowhawk to die whenever, and if ever, they eat the dead rats. This is why they decided to capture various sparrowhawks of the Pinzon Island and freed them in the neighboring island of Santa Cruz. After the process of extermination of the rodents, the scientists returned the animals to their homeland so that they can start their breeding process.
According to Rueda, the major risk, in the future, is the reintroduction of the black rat. If they are able to avoid said immigration, in 20 years, the island will return to its natural equilibrium.
The importance of the Galapagos Islands
The Galapagos archipelago, located 972 km from the Ecuadorian west coast, is a key element both in the Ecuadorian economy and in the world biodiversity. According to the Environmental Ministry of Ecuador, the archipelago receives around 600 tourist daily that arrive in 6 daily flights. Juan Carlos Izurieta, Coordinator of the Tourist Observatory of the Galapagos, between 2007 and 2015, the tourism in the island grew 3,72%. Most of the tourists are from United States (37%), United Kingdom (8%), Germany (6%), Canada (6%), Australia (5%), Argentina (4%), and France (3%).
However, the Galapagos Island was the place where Charles Darwin discovered the evolution theory. The English scientist arrived to the archipelago on September 15th, 1835. Darwin started to write down the diversity of species in the Chetham Island. After his journey, in 1859, the scientist wrote his most important book: “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection”.
The uniqueness of its biodiversity is the reason why the archipelago is a touristic hotspot and was a fundamental place for the discovery of evolution and the birthplace of the natural selection theories.
Latin American Post | Santiago Gómez
Copy edited by Susana Cicchetto