Visiting the island of Santa Cruz was one of my favorite days. We did have to land near the airport and take the tour bus into Puerto Ayora as the winds were too high to land directly, but once there was saw some of the things that are the main reason to come to the Galapagos, the giant tortoises. First we saw them at the Darwin center where they have some that are part of the captive breeding program, and some adults that were once kept as pets, but are now part of the Darwin Center. The Galapgos tortoises were nearly decimated by seafarers when they were discovered that they could be kept on board a ship with-out food or water for months as a source of fresh meat.
The captive breeding program is very important to the survival of the species as tortoises are bread and hatch in the protected area and when they are 5 years old, and big enough to survive on their own, but not too imprinted on humans, they are then brought to the islands to re-establish the species. Several islands have eradicated the introduced goats and other invasive species and they are now primed for the young tortoises to be re-introduced. There are many articles about the species preservation but here is one about the captive breeding and the milestones that the Galapagos caretakers have achieved in bringing back the species from the brink of extinction. Galapagos Conservancy
Also in the town we had some free time to do some souvenir shopping and check out the fish market, where the wild life have decided that they like to beg for food rather than hunt for it.
Another project in which Celebrity guest’s take part, is the replanting of indigenous trees. When humans first settled Santa Cruise island they brought with them many non-native trees which replaced the important native trees. Celebrity works with the Galapagos authorities to have their guests plan native trees in the highlands area of Santa Cruise. These native trees are important nesting, food and breeding grounds for the native bird species. The whole process was well organized with muck books, trees and a hand spade for each guest to use in the tree planting process.
After planting our trees, we headed to a ranch/restaurant in the highlands where we ran into a tortoise traffic jam of sorts. Once the tortoises cleared out of the way, we were treated to a lunch and folklore show. Food, dancing and energy of the entertainers was very enjoyable.
Following lunch, we got to walk around the ranch and see the tortoises in the wild. There were probably 50 of them in the immediate vicinity. These are amazing creatures who serve as great ambassadors for conservation.My Cruise History