Galapagos tortoises eat invasive plants


This 2014 video is called Galapagos Islands RARE ANIMALS – Giant Tortoise.

From Washington University in St. Louis, USA today:

Endangered tortoises thrive on invasive plants

3 hours ago

Most research on the role of introduced species of plants and animals stresses their negative ecological impacts. But are all introduced species bad actors?

In one fascinating case the answer might be no. The iconic giant tortoises of the Galapagos Islands are thriving on a diet heavy on non-native plants. In fact, the tortoises seem to prefer these plants to native ones.

Introduced plants began to increase in abundance on the Galapagos Islands in the 1930s as native highland vegetation was cleared for agriculture, and the rate of introductions has been increasing ever since.

The giant tortoises, for their part, seem headed in the opposite direction. Until the late Pleistocene epoch, they were found on all the continents except Antarctica. Today they survive in only two locations: the Aldabra Atoll in the Indian Ocean, and the Galapagos Archipelago in the eastern Pacific Ocean. In the Galapagos, all of the remaining subspecies are considered vulnerable or endangered.

But now in a surprising turn of events, field research in the Galapagos shows that introduced plants make up roughly half the diet of two subspecies of endangered tortoise. What’s more, these plants seem to benefit the tortoises nutritionally, helping them stay fit and feisty.

The research, published in the March issue of Biotropica, was conducted by Stephen Blake, PhD, an honorary research scientist at Washington University in St. Louis and Fredy Cabrera of the Charles Darwin Foundation in the Galapagos.

“Biodiversity conservation is a huge problem confronting managers on the Galapagos Islands, “Blake said. “Eradicating the more than 750 species of invasive plants is all but impossible, and even control is difficult. Fortunately, tortoise conservation seems to be compatible with the presence of some introduced species.”

Counting bites and bouts

The study was done on the island of Santa Cruz, an extinct volcano that is home to two species of giant tortoise, but also to the largest human population in the Galapagos. Farmers have converted most of the highland moist zones to agriculture and at least 86 percent of the highlands and other moist zones are now degraded by either agriculture or invasive species.

In earlier work, Blake had fitted adult tortoises on Santa Cruz with GPS tags and discovered that they migrate seasonally between the arid lowlands, which “green up” with vegetation only in the wet season, to the meadows of the highlands, which remain lush year-round.

“This struck us as pretty odd, ” he said, “since a large Galapagos tortoise can survive for a year without eating and drinking. This is why sailors would collect the tortoises to serve as a source of fresh meat aboard ship.”

“Why would a 500-pound animal that can fast for a year and that carries a heavy shell haul itself up and down a volcano in search of food?,” Blake said. ” Couldn’t it just wait out the dry season until better times came with the rains?”

The answer, of course, depends on the tortoise’s energy balance. But the only detailed study of tortoise foraging the scientists were aware of had been completed in 1980, “largely before the explosion of introduced and invasive species hit the Galapagos,” Blake said.

Over a period of four years, the scientists followed tortoises in the field and, during 10-minute “focal observations” recorded every bite the tortoises took, the plant species and which part they ate. As an additional measure of the fruits the tortoises were eating, the scientists also counted and identified seeds (sometimes more than 1,000) in tortoise dung piles.

Counts of bites and bouts (defined as all feeding on a given species during the focal observations) showed that tortoises actually spent more time browsing on introduced species than on native ones.

“We weren’t really that surprised,” Blake said. “Consider it from a tortoise’s point of view. The native guava, for example, produces small fruits containing large seeds and a small amount of relatively bitter pulp in a thick skin. The introduced guava is large and contains abundant sweet pulp in a thin, pliable skin.”

The team, which included Sharon Deem, a wildlife veterinarian and epidemiologist at the St. Louis Zoo, also assessed the tortoises’ health and nutritional status, weighing them by suspending them from a spring balance and taking blood samples.

All of the indicators the scientists studied suggest that introduced species in the diet have either a neutral or positive effect on the physical condition of the tortoises. Introduced species may even help tortoises to improve their condition during the dry season.

Since a return to “pristine” conditions is unlikely on the Galapagos, it is heartening to learn that this may not be all bad news for the islands’ charismatic megaherbivores.

Galapagos finches and Charles Darwin


This video says about itself:

Galapagos Finch Evolution — HHMI BioInteractive Video

26 August 2014

The Galápagos finches remain one of our world’s greatest examples of adaptive radiation. Watch as evolutionary biologists Rosemary and Peter Grant detail their 40-year project to painstakingly document the evolution of these famous finches. Their pioneering studies have revealed clues as to how 13 distinct finch species arose from a single ancestral population that migrated to the islands 2 million to 3 million years ago.

Use this video as a supplementary resource for lesson plans centered on teaching evolution. The video expertly illustrates the effects of natural selection on Galápagos finch populations.

Free classroom resources supporting this short film can be found here.

By Frank Nicholas, The Conversation:

April 3, 2015

Darwin’s finches highlight the unity of all life

When Charles Darwin visited the Galapagos Islands in October 1835, he and his ship-mates on board HMS Beagle collected specimens of birds, including finches and mockingbirds, from various islands of the archipelago.

At the time, Darwin took little interest in the quaint , making only a one-word mention of them in his diary. As painstakingly shown by Frank Sulloway and more recently by John Van Whye, it wasn’t until two years later that the finches sparked Darwin’s interest.

By then he had received feedback from the leading taxonomist of the time, John Gould, that the samples comprised 14 distinct species, none of which had been previously described! Gould also noted that their “principal peculiarity consisted in the bill [i.e. beak] presenting several distinct modifications of form”.

So intrigued was Darwin by this variation in size and shape of beaks that in the second (1845) edition of Journal of Researches he included illustrations of the distinctive variation between species in the size and shape of their beaks. He added a comment that:

Seeing this gradation and diversity of structure in one small, intimately related group of birds, one might really fancy that from an original paucity of birds in this archipelago, one species had been taken and modified for different ends.

Unfortunately for Darwin, the closer he examined the available evidence on Galapagos finches, the more confusing the picture became. This was partly because the specimens available to him were not sufficiently labelled as to their island of collection.

Presumably, it was his doubt about the available evidence that resulted in Darwin making no mention of Galapagos finches in any edition of Origin of Species.

Why, then, do people now label them as “Darwin’s finches”, and why are these finches now regarded as a classical textbook example of his theory of evolution by natural selection?

Paragons of evolution

Despite not mentioning Galapagos finches, Darwin did make much use of evidence from other Galapagos species (especially mockingbirds) in Origin of Species.

As the influence of Origin of Species spread, so too did the evolutionary fame of the Galapagos Islands. Increasingly, other biologists were drawn into resolving the questions about finches that Darwin had left unanswered.

By the end of the 19th century, Galapagos finches were among the most studied of all birds. By the mid-20th century, there was abundant evidence that Galapagos finches had evolved to fill the range of ecological niches available in the archipelago – a classic example of evolution by adaptive radiation.

Beak size and shape were key attributes in determining adaptation to the different types of food available. In the second half of the 20th century, classic research by Princeton University’s Peter and Rosemary Grant provided evidence of quite strong natural selection on beak size and shape.

Under the hood

New light has also been shed on the evolution of Darwin’s finches in a paper recently published in Nature. In this latest research, the entire genomes of 120 individual birds from all Galapagos species plus two closely related species from other genera were sequenced.

The work was done by a team led by Swedish geneticist Leif Andersson, with major input from Peter and Rosemary Grant, who are still leading experts on the finches.

Comparison of sequence data enabled them to construct a comprehensive evolutionary tree based on variation across the entire finch genome. This has resulted in a revised taxonomy, increasing the number of species to 18.

The most striking feature of the genome-based tree is the evidence for matings between different populations, resulting in the occasional joining of two branches of the tree. This evidence of “horizontal” gene flow is consistent with field data on matings of finches gathered by the Grants.

A comparison of whole-genome sequence between two closely related groups of finches with contrasting beak shape (blunt versus pointed) identified at least 15 regions of chromosomes where the groups differ substantially in sequence.

Unity of life

The most striking difference between the two groups was observed in a chromosomal region containing a regulatory gene called ALX1. This gene encodes a peptide that switches other genes on and off by binding to their regulatory sequences.

Like other such genes, ALX1 is crucially involved in embryonic development. Indeed, mutations in ALX1 in humans and mice give rise to abnormal development of the head and face.

It is an extraordinary illustration of the underlying unity of all life on Earth that Leif Andersson and his colleagues have shown that the ALX1 gene also has a major effect on beak shape in finches, and that this gene has been subject to natural selection during the evolution of the Galapagos finches.

If Darwin were alive today, he would be astounded at the power of genomics tools such as those used in generating the results described in this paper. He would also be delighted to see such strong evidence not only in support of evolution but also in support of one of its major forces, .

Rare tortoise babies born on Galapagos island


This video says about itself:

5 March 2015

Baby tortoises were born on the Island of Pinzon, something that likely hasn’t happened since 1880. CNN’s Natalie Allen has this story.

From Associated Press:

Scientists cheered by birth of Galapagos tortoises in wild

Posted: Mar 14, 2015 5:33 AM Updated: Mar 17, 2015 8:36 AM

By GONZALO SOLANO

QUITO, Ecuador – For the first time in a century, babies of the endangered Pinzon giant tortoise have been born in the wild in the Galapagos islands, scientists said.

An expedition in 1970 found only 19 adult tortoises on the archipelago’s Pinzon island, averaging 70 years old, so scientists removed them to start a captive breeding program on Santa Cruz island. The program produced juveniles that were transplanted back to the island, which is the only place the species is found.

Danny Rueda, who is in charge of conservation and restoration of ecosystems in the Galapagos, told The Associated Press that in December six infant Pinzons were found to have been born on the island.

He said there are now 650 juvenile and adult tortoises on Pinzon.

Rueda said the reintroduction of the tortoise was helped by the 2012 campaign to eradicate rats that infested Pinzon and other islands in the archipelago after being introduced long ago by passing ships. The rats prevented the reproduction by tortoises and other species.

“Finding the six baby tortoises tells us that the process of eradicating rats succeeded,” he said.

“We have begun to see that the ecosystem has begun to restore itself” on Pinzon, Rueda added. “It is a process that takes a long time. But the first step is the birth of tortoises in their natural habitat, which a century ago did not happen.”

The Galapagos, an Ecuadorean territory in the Pacific about 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) from the mainland, was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1978 because of its unique land and marine animals and vegetation. That flora and fauna helped inspire Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.

See also here.

Birdwatching in Ecuador, Galapagos islands


This video says about itself:

21 March 2011

A selection of clips from a birding trip in Northwest Ecuador— the Andes Introtour with Tropical Birding (tropicalbirding.com), guided by Andres Vasquez. Taken with a Canon 7D and 400mm f/5.6L lens.

From the Montana Standard in the USA:

Birding Ecuador, Galapagos Islands

March 08, 2015 12:15 am

Birding in Montana is a lot of fun, but when you have 371 of the 428 species, you don’t often find a new one. Last year I did not get a single new life bird in Montana. My life list sat at 1,466 in 2014, and my goal to see one quarter of the world’s birds or 2,588 species remained stagnant.

The best place to find the most birds is along the Equator in both South America and Africa. I have birded South Africa, Kenya, and Belize in Central America, so it was time to bird South America. My wife, Laura, and I and birding friends from Helena chose Ecuador as it is fairly close, safe, and the currency is the U.S. dollar.

The potential birds to see in Ecuador are nearly unlimited with 1,576 species recorded there. In comparison, the lower 48 states have 920 species, and Ecuador is the size of Nevada. We chose to bird the northwest quarter of Ecuador as that area has a high concentration of different species in a relatively small area. We estimated that we had the possibility of seeing around 600 species, but realistically in 14 days of birding we knew we would not see that many. We were extremely pleased that we were able to see 376 species of which 312 were life birds. That is the largest number of life birds I have ever recorded in a single trip. South Africa netted 275 life birds, Kenya 216, and Belize 99.

We flew into the capital city of Quito which lies in a valley of the Andean mountains at 6,500 feet. Quito is a modern city of three million inhabitants. Ecuador has a population of 15 million, with 70 percent of the population living along the west coast of the country in more hospitable climates. The Andean Mountains are much cooler and wetter than the coast.

LAS GRALARIAS RESERVE

From Quito we traveled to the West Andean Mountains and stayed at Las Gralarias Reserve. The reserve is named after the genus of the Giant Antpitta, a bird first photographed there about 20 years ago. The 1,063-acre reserve was purchased by an American, Jane Lyons, in 1999. Lyons and her nonprofit organization restored and reclaimed the area and it is now host to no less than 266 bird species in 44 families. Of these species 30 are endemic (found only at that location) and 13 are considered to be at risk.

At Las Gralarias we were provided with housing, meals, English-speaking Ecuadorian guides and transportation for 11 days. Each day we would bird from around 6 am to 6 pm, then eat dinner, go to bed and rest for the next day’s adventure. We crossed the Equator at least twice daily. Las Gralarias is at 8,500 feet in the Cloud Forest, and days were cool, (in the 60s) wet, and foggy. Nights were cold as none of the buildings has heat, but blankets on the beds made the difference. Annual rainfall in this region is 150 inches, and some years have accumulated as much as 400 inches. It is known as one of the wettest areas on the earth. Thus we birded with raingear and rubber boots. The small town of Mindo, just below Las Gralarias Reserve in the valley, is known as the birding capital of the world. Paintings of birds are everywhere on buildings, brick walls, and football stadiums.

BIRDING BY ELEVATION

Rather than bird different habitats as you do in Montana, such as grasslands, riparian, and coniferous forest, you bird by elevation. Each 1,000-foot change in elevation brings a new diversity of birds to observe. While in the Western Andean Mountains we birded from 4,000 to 15,000 feet finding different birds at each elevation.

There are 131 species of hummingbirds in Ecuador and they are everywhere. We found 44 species, which were most of the species in the area that we birded. Tanagers are another large family of birds in Ecuador. In Montana we have recorded three species of tanagers. Ecuador has 148 species and we found 53 species. We also spent two days in the Eastern Andean Mountains rounding out our birding of the northwest portion of the country.

In the east, we spent more time at higher elevations near a volcanic mountain that was covered with snow above 20,000 feet. We birded the steep grasslands to 17,000 feet. One of the highlights of the trip was finding the Rufous-breasted Seed-snipe, a grouse type bird, at 17,000 feet in high winds, with the rain coming vertically across the stunted and cushion plant terrain of this elevation. Finding the Seed-snipe was one of the wettest and coldest birding experiences I have had in a foreign country.

Rare and hard-to-find birds that we observed and photographed included: Andean Condor, Aplomado Falcon, Andean Lapwing, Cock-of-the-Rock, Rufescent Screech-owl, Oilbird, Choco Trogon, Giant Antpitta, Long-wattled Umbrellabird, Scarlet-rumped Cacique and Slaty Finch. Photographs of several of these are included with this article.

GALAPAGOS ISLANDS

We next flew to the Galapagos Islands and stayed for our last five days of birding. Politically, the islands are part of Ecuador, but are separated by 800 miles of the Pacific Ocean. The flora and fauna are unique. Islands never have large numbers of bird species, but many species are endemic and Galapagos is no exception. A chain of 12 volcanic and intrusive lava flow islands comprise the Galapagos. Many of the islands are unhabituated, and only three have roads. Ninety-five percent of the islands are within the national park system and are highly regulated to prevent nonnative species from invading and endangering the natural flora and fauna.

We flew to Baltra Island from Quito via the port city of Quayaquil. Baltra consists of desert cactuses and an airport. Four planes a day come and go, exchanging 800 visitors daily. From the airport you are transported by bus to the edge of the tiny island. Here, you transfer to a ferry going to the main island of Santa Cruz, which has three small communities. The largest city is Puerto Ayora on the opposite end of the island some 22 miles from the ferry landing.

In all, Galapagos has a population of 14,000 of which the majority work either in the tourist or fishing industries. We stayed in Puerto Ayora in a six-room hotel that served breakfast. On Santa Cruz there are around 70 bird species with the total species count for all of the islands at 149.

However, only 60 bird species are year-round residents. The rest are migrants, and most of those are shorebirds. Here we birded, using local naturalist guides, pelagic boat trips, and on our own. We were able to find 61 species of which 24 are endemic to the Galapagos Islands.

Land and aquatic lizards and tortoises are another unique feature of the Galapagos. Often we would see two- to three-foot lizards crawling along the sand as we birded. In the wetter highlands, we would encounter what first looked like large rocks, only they would get up and move. These tortoises were three to four feet across the shell and between 100 to 150 years old.

FAMOUS FOR FINCHES

Galapagos is famous for the 14 species of finches upon which Darwin based his theory of evolution, with his 1835 voyage. We were fortunate enough to find all nine finch species that are on Santa Cruz Island. Other endemics that were life birds were Swallow-tailed gull, the only nocturnally feeding gull in the world, Lava Gull, and Galapagos Dove, Mockingbird, and Flycatcher.

A bonus to the birding on the Galapagos Islands was the fresh seafood in the open air restaurants at reasonable prices.

In all, we observed 430 birds of which 337 were life birds. I also added nine bird families to my list. I now have seen 153 of the 254 bird families in the world or 65 percent. In terms of cost, we spent less than $35 a bird, which is reasonable and well worth the time and effort. We pushed hard for three weeks to find 430 species, but we had to rest up for a week after we got back. We have a personal slogan for our retirement years, “When the nest is empty go birding,” and that we did. I know many of my readers enjoy watching birds and I hope you are able to experience birding in a foreign country; it truly is a memorable experience.

Now, I’m studying the birds of Australia for my next big trip. Australia’s has 780 species, of which I have only seen 121. If I’m fortunate I should be able to add another 350 to my life list and be a lot closer to my goal of 25 percent of the world’s birds. Who knows? Maybe I’ll be fortunate and even get to 26 percent!

Galápagos birds expand their eating habits. A new ecological concept called “interaction release” explains how certain island birds developed a taste for flowers: here.

Good Galapagos tortoise news


This video says about itself:

Island-hopping in Galápagos: meet the world’s rarest tortoise and the birds of Española Island

10 October 2011

In the second part of his Galápagos island-hopping adventure, Andy Duckworth talks to naturalist guide Robert Naranjo, seeks out sea lions, a friendly hawk, dancing albatrosses and more prancing blue-footed boobies. He also meets Lonesome George, the last surviving Pinta Island tortoise and the rarest creature on the planet

From the BBC:

28 October 2014 Last updated at 19:16 GMT

Giant tortoise makes ‘miraculous’ stable recovery

By Jonathan Webb, Science reporter, BBC News

Where once there were 15, now more than 1,000 giant tortoises lumber around Espanola, one of the Galapagos Islands.

After 40 years’ work reintroducing captive animals, a detailed study of the island’s ecosystem has confirmed it has a stable, breeding population.

Numbers had dwindled drastically by the 1960s, but now the danger of extinction on Espanola appears to have passed.

Galapagos tortoises, of which there are 11 remaining subspecies, weigh up to 250kg and live longer than 100 years.

The study, based on decades of observations of the variety found on Espanola, was published in the journal Plos One.

Slow release

It offers some good news that contrasts with the tale of Lonesome George, the very last of the related subspecies found on Pinta, on the other side of the archipelago. George’s death, at the age of about 100, made international news in 2012.

Lead author Prof James Gibbs told BBC News the finding on Espanola was “one of those rare examples of a true conservation success story, where we’ve rescued something from the brink of extinction and now it’s literally taking care of itself”.

Prof Gibbs, from the College of Environmental Science and Forestry at the State University of New York (SUNY-ESF), said he felt “honoured” to be reporting the obvious success of the reintroduction programme, which the Galapagos Islands National Park Service commenced in 1973.

His team has found that more than half the tortoises released since that time are still alive, and they are breeding well enough for the population to plod onward, unaided.

“It looks like we can step back out of the picture,” Prof Gibbs said.

It is quite a contrast to the 1960s, when just 12 females and 3 males roamed the island.

“They were so rare at that point, they couldn’t find one another. Many of the females had lichens growing on their backs, and fungi, that indicated they hadn’t been mated in a very long time.”

Those animals were taken to an enclosure [on] another island, to concentrate on breeding. Over the subsequent decades, more than 1500 of their captive-raised offspring have been released on Espanola.

Competing for cacti

It wasn’t as simple as putting the tortoises back, however. Their problems began when feral goats were introduced in the 1800s and devoured much of the island’s vegetation, severely disrupting the ecosystem.

“They can literally turn a rich ecosystem into a dustbowl,” Prof Gibbs said.

The goats even learned to feast on very tall cactus plants, whose dropped pads are a key food source for the tortoises in the dry season.

“They would feast on the roots… and chew away at the bark, and eventually that would topple these cacti. And then they had an incredible buffet of maybe 500-1000 years of cactus growth, demolished in a week or two.”

Conservationists set about culling the goats in the 1970s and finally eradicated them in the 1990s.

Their legacy, Prof Gibbs discovered, remains.

Analysis of the island’s plant life and its soil show that it has seen a major shift to bigger, woodier vegetation in the 100 years since the goats started stripping the undergrowth.

These shrubs and trees are a problem both for the tortoises and for their summer food of choice, the cacti.

The trees even get in the way of an endangered albatross that breeds on the island, making it difficult for the big, ungainly birds to take flight.

“Population restoration is one thing but ecological restoration is going to take a lot longer,” Prof Gibbs said.

Dr Rebecca Scott, an ecologist who studies turtles at GEOMAR in Kiel, Germany, said the results showed how important it is to monitor reintroduction carefully.

“Reintroducing these large, keystone species, in combination with reducing the spread of invasive species, can really help return ecosystems to native state.

“This work highlights the merit of well-managed reintroduction programmes, but also of really monitoring how these animals do.”

Dr Gerardo Garcia, a herpetologist at Chester Zoo, agreed that the situation was complex and the programme had succeeded because of careful, long-term management.

“It’s a long process but it’s quite normal for it to take decades,” he told BBC News.

“Nothing gets released and stable in less than 20 or 30 years.”

See also here.

Galapagos islands, new film


This video says about itself:

Galapagos 3D Narrated by Jeff Corwin – Official | Digital 3D Version

In the vastness of the Pacific Ocean, there is a paradise unlike any other: the Galapagos. Amongst these remote volcanic islands, life has played out over millions of years in relative isolation. The result is a wonderland of nature, with a remarkable collection of plants and charismatic animals that have all adapted to this unique environment. Meet giant half-ton tortoises and marine iguanas that spit sea-salt. Dance with the tropical albatrosses and hunt fishes with the colorful blue-footed boobies. Swim with tiny penguins thousands of miles away from their natural habitats. This is a story of discovery, of survival against the odds, and of nature’s ingenuity, all brought to life in stunning 3D.

From the California Science Center in the USA:

Explore the Wonders of the Galapagos Islands in a Stunning New 3D Film

Wildlife Conservationist Jeff Corwin featured in “Galapagos 3D: Nature’s Wonderland” Opening on October 5, 2014 at the California Science Center

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 23, 2014 — The California Science Center invites audiences to an exploration of a paradise unlike any other, with the breathtaking IMAX film, “Galapagos 3D: Nature’s Wonderland” narrated by Jeff Corwin, premiering this October 5th.

“Galapagos 3D: Nature’s Wonderland” brings to the giant screen these remarkable volcanic islands, home to some of nature’s most incredible living creatures. Located close to the equator in the Pacific Ocean, at the confluence of several nutrient-rich currents, the Galapagos archipelago has developed over millions of years in relative isolation. The result is a living museum of nature, with an abundance of species of plants and unique animals that have adapted to thrive in this challenging environment. Giant half-ton long-necked tortoises lumber among dancing blue-footed boobies and flightless cormorants. Small penguins living thousands of miles from their natural habitats share the seas with unique marine iguanas that spit sea-salt. This is an incredible story of discovery, of survival against the odds, and of nature’s ingenuity.

“I was thrilled to provide the narration for this amazing project,” said Corwin, wildlife conservationist and Emmy award-winning TV host. “When I saw the film for the first time, it literally took my breath away. Despite traveling the world for 20 years hosting and creating documentaries, I was thoroughly impressed with this incredible journey.”

After viewing the film, Science Center visitors are encouraged to visit the “Ecosystems” exhibition, where concepts from the film like adaptation are illustrated through a blend of live plants, animals, and hands-on exhibits in 11 immersive environments, or zones. “Ecosystems” occupies 45,000 square feet and contains more than 250 species of plants and animals. Guests will find out why isolation breeds change and visit a simulated tropical island research station in the “Island Zone,” where they will learn about evolution by studying some of the unique animals that make these isolated habitats their homes. In the “Extreme Zone,” guests explore the desert, rocky shores, and more to discover how environmental factors test the limits of plants and animals—and how they have adapted to flourish, just like the animals featured in “Galapagos 3D: Nature’s Wonderland.”

“There are not too many places more powerful than the Galapagos Islands when it comes to understanding our planet,” said Corwin. “Galapagos 3D: Nature’s Wonderland” perfectly captures what makes the creatures living there such unique characters.”

Produced by Anthony Geffen, written by David Attenborough and narrated by Jeff Corwin, “Galapagos 3D: Nature’s Wonderland” is directed by Martin Williams and features original music composed by Joel Douek. The film is a Colossus Productions presentation in association with SKY 3D, distributed by nWave Pictures Distribution.

“Galapagos 3D: Nature’s Wonderland” was filmed on location over a ten- month period in 2012 and 2013, followed by five months of post-production. Using breakthrough digital 3D filmmaking technologies and featuring 4K ultra-high resolution imagery, the producers have brought to life the extraordinary world of the Galapagos archipelago in a way that has not been possible before. The Galapagos Islands are governed by Ecuador and lie some 600 miles from the coast of South America.

The film’s official website is here.

See also here.

Noddy tern’s Galapagos symbiosis with brown pelican


Brown noddy tern and brown pelican, photo SOLENT NEWS

From the Daily Express in Britain:

A cheeky bird that booked a free ride and meal on pelican

THIS naughty seabird perches on the head of a pelican… just waiting for the chance to claim any fish dropped by its feathered rival.

By: John Ingham

Tue, August 19, 2014

And the smaller brown noddy bird clearly comes out on top.

“The noddy takes advantage of the pelican’s fishing style to cash in on a free meal,” said wildlife photographer Tui De Roy, who snapped the uninvited guest in action off the Galapagos Islands in the Pacific.

“Neither the noddy nor the pelican fear each other. Both are well accustomed to the relationship, even if it is one-sided.”

The large-billed pelican feasts on small fish, with the noddy grabbing a quick snack if it sees the chance.

Tui, 60, who grew up on the islands, added: “Several pelicans were working the shallows, diving every few minutes. Each was followed by several noddies that settled on their heads, snatching fish trying escape.

“I suspect the pelican doesn’t really appreciate the hitchhiker, but it is used to it and there’s nothing it can do to shake it off while its beak is still full of water.”

Perhaps the pelican should just send it the bill…