Española Island field trip

Lava Boulders
Opuntia Work
Española Tortoises
Lava Lizard

Field trip to Española Island to collect the fruits of the Opuntia cactus. Española is a low, waterless, desert island and is covered in low thorn bush and huge crumbling lava boulders which made this some of the toughest most dehydrating field work we have ever experienced.

The Española subspecies of the Giant Tortoise (Geochelone elephantopus hoodensis) was in the past reduced to just 3 adult males and 10 females. These animals were brought back to the Darwin Station where they were captive bred and the young produced repatriated back to Española which has since been eradicated of goats and is now suitable for viable breeding again. Pictured is an old male Tortoise with a juvenile born on the island.

The Española race of the Lava Lizard (Tropidurus spp) is the largest in the Galapagos, some of which approach 30cm or more in length. The females are characterized by bright red heads and the males are adorned with large spines along the crest of their heads and down their backs.

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