Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Giant Tortoise Believed Extinct Sighted in Galápagos

Animals
The first member of the giant tortoise species Chelonoidis phantasticus to be seen in more than 100 years. RODRIGO BUENDIA / AFP / Getty Images

A rare species of giant tortoise, feared extinct for more than 100 years, was sighted on the Galápagos island of Fernandina Sunday, the Ecuadorian government announced.


The tortoise, an adult female of the species Chelonoidis phantasticus, was found during an investigation by the Galápagos National Park and the U.S. environmental group Galapagos Conservancy, The Associated Press reported.

The researchers also thought that the tracks and faeces they had observed on their trip indicated there might be other members of the extremely endangered species living on the island. Up until Sunday's discovery, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) had listed the tortoise as critically endangered and possibly extinct, but noted that there was an unconfirmed sighting in 2009, and previous expeditions had found faeces and bite marks on cacti on the island.

"This encourages us to strengthen our search plans to find more tortoises, which will allow us to start a captive breeding program to recover this species," Galápagos National Park Director Danny Rueda said in a park Facebook post.

The tortoise, who is likely more than 100 years old, was moved to a tortoise breeding center on Santa Cruz Island, The Associated Press reported.

"They will need more than one, but females may store sperm for a long time," Duke University Conservation Ecology Professor Stuart Pimm told The Associated Press of a potential breeding program. "There may be hope."

The last confirmed sighting of Chelonoidis phantasticus was in 1906, when one was found by an expedition of the California Academy of Sciences, according to The Independent.

Fernandina is the youngest and most volcanically active of the Galápagos islands. The IUCN listed "the frequent volcanic lava flows that nearly cover the island" as the force that might have driven the species close to extinction.

There were once 14 species of giant tortoises on nine Galápagos islands, but now that number has fallen to 10 species on six islands, The Independent reported.

Ecuadorian Environment Minister Marcelo Mata Guerrero was quoted on the Galápagos National Park Facebook page as saying the park could "count on all the backing of the national government and the Environment Ministry to conduct the necessary investigations to guarantee the conservation and preservation of the species that call the Galápagos home."

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Aerial shot top view Garbage trucks unload garbage to a recycle in the vicinity of the city of Bangkok, Thailand. bugto / Moment / Getty Images

German researchers have identified a strain of bacterium that not only breaks down toxic plastic, but also uses it as food to fuel the process, according to The Guardian.

Read More Show Less

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a policy memo yesterday that is an expansive relaxation of legally mandated regulations on polluting industries, saying that industries may have trouble adhering to the regulations while they are short-staffed during the coronavirus global pandemic, according to the AP.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Hurricane Dorian was one of the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season's most devastating storms. NASA

2019 marked the fourth year in a row that the Atlantic hurricane season saw above-average activity, and it doesn't look like 2020 will provide any relief.

Read More Show Less

The deep, open ocean may seem like an inhospitable environment, but many species like human-sized Humboldt squids are well-adapted to the harsh conditions. 1,500 feet below the ocean's surface, these voracious predators could be having complex conversations by glowing and changing patterns on their skin that researchers are just beginning to decipher.

Read More Show Less
A worker distributes disinfection wipes at a farmers market at Richard Tucker Park in New York City on March 21, 2020. Lev Radin / Pacific Press / LightRocket via Getty Images

Not many restaurants will be able to survive coronavirus, and this is a personal, social and national tragedy.

I'm worried about farmers markets too.

Read More Show Less