Galapagos » Cahrles Darwin Research Station

Charles Darwin Research Station

Galapagos sea lions

The Charles Darwin Research Station, founded in 1959, has a Natural History Interpretation Centre and carries out educational projects in support of the Galapagos National Park Service. The Park has the following development programmes: conservation of natural resources, management of flora and fauna, sustainable use of resources. Others are related to environmental education, marine resources, agricultural development, monitoring and vigilance. Their aim is to conserve this natural habitat and allow tourists to appreciate all these unique species.

A visit to the Charles Darwin Station is a must for any visitor. Discover the conservation efforts and see the giant tortoises (Elephantopus Geochelone), you will learn about their breeding, conservation and the history of extermination during the centuries the Islands have been visited.

In the station distances are short and you can walk. On the route you will find Opuntia Cactus (Opuntia Echios Gigantean) endemic of the Galapagos, and be sure to look out for the tame finches and observe the variety of beaks that led Charles Darwin to his theory of evolution. On your visit (approximately two hours) be sure to stop at the following pavilions:

1. Van Straelen Visitors Center: a didactic exhibition on origin, fragility, conservation, geology, climate and other aspects related to the Galapagos Islands. Watch the interesting video from Monday thru Friday at 8am, l0am, 2pm and 4pm.

2. Casona Exhibition Center: graphic exhibits of all species of giant tortoises, their different shells and the two extinct subspecies that inhabited in Fernandina. Floreana and Santa Fe Islands.

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3. Centro de Crianza (Breeding Center): on the right of the Casona Exhibition is the center that houses small tortoises from every island until they are mature enough to survive with hardened shells. Once they reach maturity they are placed on their Island of origin.

4. Corrales de Tortugas (Tortoises Corrals); at the corrals you can observe and compare the different shapes of the shells according to the species of the tortoises, It is interesting to note that Diego (Geochelone Elephantopus hoodensis, Española Island) that was brought from the San Diego Zoo, has a flat and tall at the neck shell. Diego was successfully reunited with females from Española Island and this species has been saved from extinction. Unfortunately, the main point of interest, Lonesome George is the last survivor of the Pinta Island tortoise specie. Not one female has been found for George, Lonesome George is the last of his species. He lives with two closely genetic related females from the Wolf Volcano (Is. Isabela), but has not been able to reproduce successfully.

5. Corral de Iguanas Terrestres: at the Land Iguanas Corral a few protected specimen can be found, Introduced animals such as dogs and cats endanger the iguanas. Two of these iguana species are endemic to the Galapagos Islands, the Conolophus subcristatus found at six of the Islands, and the Conolophus Pellidus found at the Santa Fe Island.

Charles Darwin Foundation has a dedicated international staff that works together on research and long-term conservation programs.


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