Big Pacific: The Galápagos Tortoise, a roaming reptile

From pages 116-118 of Big Pacific:

Perhaps the best known Galápagos inhabitants are the tortoises after which the archipelago was named — the word ‘galápago’ meaning tortoise in Spanish. Sometimes weighing in excess of 400 kilograms (900 pounds), they are the world’s largest tortoise, and also one of its longest lived.

Galápagos tortoises can survive without food or water for six months or more by breaking down body fat to produce sufficient water and nutrients. This remarkable adaptation helps them endure droughts on the islands’ arid lowlands, but also led to their mass exploitation by whalers and sealers who captured and kept the animals on board their ships as a convenient source of fresh meat for long sea voyages. This led not just to a rapid decline in Galápagos tortoise numbers but the extinction of several sub-species once found on the islands.

[Galápagos tortoises] move regularly from arid lowlands to lusher highlands, over time creating trails across the landscape.

Typically the herbivorous animals’ diet is the product of a daily routine which sees them wander along well-worn paths from the lower slopes of their island homes to the volcanic highlands. Here the tortoises enjoy the abundance of water and plants — including an introduced and highly invasive species of guava that now seems to be sustaining some tortoise populations.

Big Pacific: Passionate, Voracious, Mysterious, Violent
By Rebecca Tansley

The Pacific Ocean covers one-third of Earth’s surface—more than all of the planet’s landmasses combined. It contains half of the world’s water, hides its deepest places, and is home to some of the most dazzling creatures known to science. The companion book to the spectacular five-part series on PBS produced by Natural History New Zealand, Big Pacific breaks the boundaries between land and sea to present the Pacific Ocean and its inhabitants as you have never seen them before.

Illustrated in full color throughout, Big Pacific blends a wealth of stunning Ultra HD images with spellbinding storytelling to take you into a realm teeming with exotic life rarely witnessed up close—until now. The book is divided into four sections, each one focusing on an aspect of the Pacific. “Passionate Pacific” looks at the private lives of sea creatures, with topics ranging from the mating behaviors of great white sharks to the monogamy of wolf eels, while “Voracious Pacific” covers hunting and feeding. In “Mysterious Pacific,” you will be introduced to the Pacific’s more extraordinary creatures, like the pufferfish and firefly squid, and explore some of the region’s eerier locales, like the turtle tombs of Borneo and the skull caves of Papua New Guinea. “Violent Pacific” examines the effects of events like natural disasters on the development of the Pacific Ocean’s geography and the evolution of its marine life.

Providing an unparalleled look at a diverse range of species, locations, and natural phenomena, Big Pacific is truly an epic excursion to one of the world’s last great frontiers.

Learn more by watching Big Pacific, airing Sundays on PBS Guam and CPTV Spirit. Watch the trailer below:



This post is part of a series, explore additional posts here<< Big Pacific: Nomura’s jellyfish, the ocean’s drifterBig Pacific: Palolo Worms, the sprawling spectacle >>