Greetings from the Galápagos Islands

Galápagos tortoise

Imagine a place where four ocean currents come together from four different parts of the world. Those currents converge and collide among a collection of volcanic islands, some 600 miles away from any mainland. This would create a very unique place indeed, as the ocean currents bring with them nutrients and animals alike. The volcanic terrain would also offer up rich soil and exceptional terrain where you might find birds from around the world nesting and raising young, and unique reptiles found nowhere else.

Believe it or not, this place does exist and is known as the Galápagos Islands! I am fortunate enough to be headed to Santa Cruz Island, one of the many islands that make up the magnificent and truly amazing Galápagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador.
Over the next few days, I will be checking in via tweets on Twitter and blogs posted here to share with you what I am experiencing and learning. I am traveling with Shea Johnson, the San Diego Zoo’s videographer, and our goal is to get as much footage as possible of these wonderful islands and the amazing animals that call them home.

Our plan is to visit the Charles Darwin Research Center and talk with the staff there about the goals and challenges of conservation in this region. We hope to visit Diego, a Galápagos tortoise that once lived at the San Diego Zoo. And, of course, we want to learn more about Lonesome George, the last of his subspecies of Galápagos tortoise, that lives at the Center.

If time permits, we plan on heading out beyond the research area. We hope to take a boat to visit some of the more remote coves and then hike to the higher elevations to see more wildlife. It is clear to us that the Galápagos Islands offer much more to do and see than we could possibly fit into one week, but trust me when I say we have a VERY busy time ahead of us.

Rick Schwartz is a zookeeper and the San Diego Zoo’s ambassador.

8 Responses to Greetings from the Galápagos Islands

  1. Rick, thanks for the update. Not that I’m at all jealous of you, but I’d sure like to be there with you and Shea! Have fun, be safe, and bring back fabulous pictures and marvelous tales to tell us all!!!

  2. Rick – Will you be doing any diving? I hear it’s spectacular!! What fun that would be… checking out the critters above and below the water… Can’t wait to read your blogs…:-)

  3. has the galapagos tortoise exhibit openend?

    Moderator’s note: The tortoises are enjoying their newly renovated yards and can be seen by Zoo visitors, but the interactive elements will be unveiled during Mission Fed’s Reptilemania at the Zoo, September 16 through 19.

  4. looking forward to reading your blogs and seeing your photos. i was there with a group from the zoo several years ago. it was great!!

  5. Rick,
    I hope you have as much fun as I did 20 years ago. If you meet my big brother, Juan Carlos Naranjo, in town, please tell him I said hello! :-)
    Have a safe and fun trip!
    Cristina in LA

  6. I’ve been hoping to visit the Galapagos. My great-grandmother’s brother, Rollo Burk of San Jose, was a naturalist and an ornithologist. He and his wife (Ida) went to the Galapagos on a sailing ship around 1900 on a commission for the Rothschild museum in London to bring back some of the giant tortoises.

    I have a picture of my grandmother sitting on one of the tortoises in No. Cal when she was about 2. One of her feet was bare, and there’s a sock hanging off the other foot. Her 2 brothers were standing on either of the tortoise, but my grandmother was crying. Apparently, her brothers told her the tortoise would bite her toes. There was also an article about Rollo’s trip in a National Geographic magazine about the trip.

    I don’t know whether any of the tortoises he collected are still alive today.

    Moderator’s note: What an exciting bit of history to have in your family!

  7. Hi all!

    We ended up having computer troubles while in the Galapagos Islands. Sadly that means there were no opportunities for “real-time” blog updates. However, I am back home in San Diego and will be posting to the blog the next few days… My Best To All!

  8. Hey… Rick…!!
    I hope you enjoy you visit to the Galapagos Islands.
    And it was a pleasure to help you on the way to get the awesome footage that I’m sure you get here…

    Greetings from Galapagos.