Galapagos – Sea Lions and Tortoises
Sea Lions and Fur Seals
The Galapagos provide a home base for thousands of sea lions and fur seals which take advantage of the varied seafood brought in by the converging ocean currents.
The sea lions share the rocks and beaches with the marine iguanas. Where the iguanas lounge for heat, the sea lions sleep to replenish the oxygen depleted from their systems during their long dives.
The bulls are easily identified by the hump on the forehead and the habit of bellowing for territory along the shore. It’s good practice to keep one’s self from wandering between a bull and his harem.
Not as visible as the sea lions but present in similar numbers are the fur seals. Less tolerant of the heat, they hide in rocky crevices by day and hunt at night.
The Galapagos are also home to the legendary giant tortoises. Capable of living (slowly) for hundreds of years they faced extinction until a recent effort to preserve the species. The Darwin Research Station breeds and raises tortoises until they are mature enough to make it on their own in the various islands of the archipelago.
Due to their enormous weight the tortoises have developed elephant-like feet. They creak along very slowly and breathe with a hollow, shallow wheeze.
Darwin is the home of Lonesome George, last of the Pinta Island tortoises. Attempts have been made recently to breed the poor boy with females from nearby islands, but to no avail.
Breeding the next generations of tortoises is a big part of the station’s mission, with a system in place to take the animals from egg to adulthood.