Monday, September 21, 2015

Galapagos tortoises and the Santa Cruz highlands

This is Mike...
The giant Galapagos tortoises are rare creatures indeed. Their habitat is under threat from farming ventures, cattle operations and invasive species. There appears to be a concentrated efforts to save what is left for these dinosaurs of the islands. The highlands are a special place for the tortoises because it is wet year round unlike most other places where it can get quite parched. If I had to guess, I would think 70% of the highlands were cut down many years ago to make way for ranchers, coffee growers and the like. The remaining primary forest is as it has been for the last umpteen thousands of years. The primeval forest is shaded and bright at the same time. I know this sounds crazy but the canopy is how nature intended it to be, open and airy, yet shady and cool at the same time.

The tortoises can grow up to 550 pounds and can live 150 years or more

A scene of a bygone era when these guys were the largest creatures on the islands

A younger tortoise perhaps 80 years old

There were caves for us to explore as well

We like exploring easy caves like these ones

Tortoise dung is huge

I can truly say that man knows how to cut down forests very well

Primary forest is so interconnected

 A few extinct craters are visible at the top of the highlands

Tons of birds were singing incredible songs here.

The mosses and lichens grow all the way up the trunks of the trees giving the forest an eerie ancient feel.

Some of the trees have been home to bird colonies for hundreds of years.

The way an island forest should look like, with all the pieces of the puzzle.

Open and airy yet shady and cool is the only way to describe this place.

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