Tortoise Species Thought Extinct for 113 Years Found in the Galapagos

A tortoise species thought to be extinct for more than a century has been spotted in a remote region of the Galapagos Islands. Researchers say they found a female Fernandina Giant Tortoise on the island of Fernandina this past Sunday. That marks the first time since 1906 that such a creature has been seen at all, giving hope to the idea that rare tortoises could potentially be brought back from the edge of extinction.

According to reports, the adult female is believed to be well over 100 years old. Upon spotting her, conservationists sprung into action, retrieving her from the island and taking her to a nearby breeding facility where she can be looked after and cared for. The first order of business is to run a genetic test to confirm that she is indeed a Fernandina Giant Tortoise. If that test comes up positive, as expected, the hope is to keep her protected and potentially harvest eggs to help the species to start to recover.

The research team that spotted this large female say that they don’t think she is alone. Tracks on the island seemed to confirm that other individuals of the species may be alive on Fernandina Island as well. The hope is that they can find others, particularly a male, so that they can begin a breeding program to help with recovery efforts.

The Fernandina Giant Tortoise is one of 14 different giant tortoises that have been known to exist in the Galapagos. Most of those species are close to extinction after being hunted for food and oil since the late 1800s. Efforts are underway to protect the remaining individuals and help their populations to grow once again. Hopefully, the recovery of this female on Sunday will lead to the discovery of others. Perhaps it isn’t too late to bring them back from the brink.

Kraig Becker