Hey Guys, Shelly here!
I'm so excited to bring some great news for a change. Amidst all the horrible news about the health of our oceans and all the plastic in there.
A baby turtle, (OK, it was a tortoise...) was found on the Galapagos Island for the first time in over 100 years. Galapagos tortoises have been considered among the most endangered turtle species on the planet. But new research suggests that there are actually more than 500 estimated to be currently living on the island, after a huge conservation and repopulation effort has proven successful.
Tortoises became endangered first, after sailors first landed on the Island in the mid-18th century, on ships which carried rats. Until then, the tortoises had few natural predators.
Those long-tailed rodents quickly gained a foothold in the fragile ecosystem, and started feasting on the eggs and hatchlings of the island’s tortoises. The human-driven rat invasion was so devastating to the tortoise population that over the following decades not a single tortoise offspring survived the onslaught – setting the species on the path to extinction.
But conservation efforts, developed in the 1960s when the tortoise population have dwindled to less than 100, have eradicated the rat population on the Galapagos’ Island. Tortoises were hatched and raised for five years until they were large enough not to be attacked by rats before being released back into the wild and in 2012, biologists used helicopters to distribute poison designed to kills the rats – and it worked; the Galapagos was recently declared rat-free and the tortoise population is thriving.