An island in Ecuador is believed to home hundreds of species which existed both in land and in water for several years now. The said island gained fame, not just for its crystal clear waters and scenic view, but also when a species of giant tortoise assumed to have been extinct for more than 100 years has been discovered lurking on the seawater, according to Ecuador’s government.
The last time a Fernandina Giant Tortoise was seen alive was in 1906.
An adult female Fernandina Giant Tortoise, believed to be more than a century old, was seen alive and lurking on the Galapagos Islands of Fernandina on Sunday during a random expedition by the Giant Tortoise Restoration Initiative (GTRI), according to a statement released by the local government.
Today, Washington Tapia, GTRI director, and expedition leader said that they would perform genetic studies and further research to reconfirm that the tortoise found belongs to the Fernandina Island species.
However, experts believe that she is not alone and might belong to a family with the same species. The team also discovered tracks and scent of other tortoises which gave hopes that these observations will lead them to uncover another one of its kind.
For the meantime, conservationists took care of the tortoise and have taken her to a breeding facility on the nearby island of Santa Cruz.
Back in the day, the Fernandina Giant Tortoise is one of 14 giant tortoise species native to the Galapagos islands, most of which are endangered. It was believed to be extinct for almost two centuries due to the rampant killings mainly for food and their oil.
According to the Galapagos Conservancy, which recently joined forces with GTRI and the Galapagos National Park, finding the Fernandina tortoise is a miracle since locals and tourists are also visiting the island but never encounter such rare opportunity.
The Galapagos archipelago includes 19 islands in the Pacific Ocean roughly 621 miles or 1,000 kilometers from the Ecuadorian coast. Fernandina, the third largest and youngest of the islands remains the most volcanically active, according to an article released by CNN international.
For Danny Rueda, Director of Galapagos National Park, “this event encourages them to strengthen search plans to find other (tortoises) which will allow the group to start a breeding program in captivity to recover the said species.”
The Galapagos were declared a national park in 1959 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978, and is now a home for endangered species as well as a safe haven for lost animals.