Exciting news coming from the Galapagos Islands this past week as a female giant tortoise was found on Fernandina Island - something that hasn't been seen in more than 100 years!
An effort by the Giant Tortoise Restoration Initiative found the adult female, which has been taken for genetic testing to verify it is the Chelonoidis phantasticus species unique to Fernandina Island.
Fernandina is the youngest of the Galapagos Islands, closest to the geological "hotspot" that has formed the islands. Still volcanically active, numerous lava flows on the island were thought to fragment any possible tortoise survivors, making it nearly impossible for breeding to occur naturally. The species had been previously decimated from explotation by whalers and threats from invasive species.
However, tortoise tracks and footprints had been spotted on the island in recent years, as well as tortoise droppings. So there had been hope that there may be one - or a few - survivors still on the island.
Now the search continues to see if a mate can be found for this female, so that the species may potentially be re-populated.