Giant tortoise appears dead but is actually sleeping in the sunshine
Giant tortoises of the Galapagos are among the world's most iconic creatures. They are majestic, beautiful, and awe inspiring. They are believed to reach an age of over 200 years, and they might weigh as much as 220kg (500lbs) by the time they have reached maturity. They were an integral part of the studies conducted by the early biologists, such as Charles Darwin, that led to the theory of evolution that has changed the way we look at animals, their development, and even the way we see ourselves.
This wildlife videographer was making his way through the shrubs and forest on Santa Cruz Island, in the Galapagos. This is a province of Ecuador that is made up of several islands, all with their own unique species. Giant tortoises, once hunted to near extinction, now roam freely, thanks in part to captive breeding and conservation programs that have resulted in a rebound in the population. The videographer was quietly looking for giant tortoises when he came across this one who was motionless on a patch of grass in the open. He first feared that the animal was dead, but a close approach showed that it was merely slumbering in the sunshine with its head and limbs outstretched to soak up the rays. Tortoises are cold blooded and they rely on the warmth of the sun and their surroundings to help them move and digest food.
While watching this tortoise, we can see that it moves, swallows and adjusts its head slightly, all the while keeping its eyes closed. This is a rare sight and the videographer stood motionless for a few moments before slowly and quietly moving away to leave the tortoise in peace.
This tortoise was enormous and it is possible that it was a hatchling at the time that Charles Darwin made his historic voyage on the SS Beagle in 1835 that brought him to the Galapagos Islands.
Darwin is fondly remembered in the Galapagos Islands and many research centers, streets and even people are named after him. A visit to the Galapagos Islands isn'tr complete without a close look at one of nature's most incredible animals.