Alcedo Volcano Field Trip

Alcedo Volcano
Volcano Rim
Caseta Hut
Field Work
Alcedo Tortoise Head
Mating Tortoises
Alcedo Tortoises
Galapagos Hawk

(To enlarge a set of pictures just CLICK on any one of them)

Alcedo Volcano is a very special place as it is home to the largest population of Giant Tortoise in the Galapagos (Geochelone elephantopus vandenburghi) which number between 4000 – 5000. During the breeding season, the females complete an arduous journey to the floor of the caldera to lay their eggs in the warm, soft soil.

Our field work involved the assessment of vegetation cover abundance and diversity following the removal of over 17,000 goats from the Alcedo Volcano. The massive volcanoes of Sierra Negra and Cerro Azul on southern Isabela can be seen in the background and numerous Giant Tortoises which were literally “everywhere”.

Giant Tortoises were particularly numerous on the rim of the volcano and our visit coincided with the breeding season. The male tortoises are much larger than the females and can be heard groaning during the mating process from over a kilometer away.

The Galapagos Hawk (Buteo galapagoensis) is the top natural predator in the archipelago, but is also extremely curious and will swoop down to see what you are doing and are very approachable (this photo was taken with a 50mm lens).

The “Caseta” (hut) where we slept on the rim of the volcano was infested with Black Rats (luckily not many during our stay) and had to be fenced as the Giant Tortoises are extremely destructive and can “bulldoze” down a building within days and will also eat tents and backpacks if given the opportunity. In the past there was no Caseta and no water on the volcano rim, so researchers had to bring all of their water and set up camp for the duration of their work which usually lasted in excess of a week.

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