Scientists and conservationists confirm that our planet is currently in the sixth mass extinction of plant and animal species. Many of them are, unfortunately, struggling to survive, because of people’s harmful behaviors.
Yet, although many species are in grave danger, they believe it may not be too late to save some of them.
Species that are extinct or already extinct lead in parallel to the loss of others, creating such an imbalance in nature that can have catastrophic consequences on the ecosystem.
The story of the turtles in the Galapagos is something that is encouraging and a happy reversal of events is expected.
It is a great effort of scientists to preserve and repopulate the turtles, ultimately to succeed. Recently, a small group of baby turtles on Pinzón Island in the Galapagos Islands was spotted by researchers. This type of turtle was very close to extinction not too long ago.
The first to see the turtles was researcher James Gibbs, a professor of vertebrate conservation biology and associate chair of the Department of Environmental and Forest Biology at New York State University. James stated:
“I’m surprised that after so long, the turtles have given us the opportunity to make up for our mistakes.”
These are positive signs after humans have virtually destroyed this type of turtle through their violent activities. These recent baby turtle births protect them from extinction.
This all began in the mid-eighteenth century when sailors sailed to Pinzón Island. They have in fact inadvertently caused an environmental disaster.
What really happened?
Sailors brought rats to the area, which were rapidly expanding in a fragile ecosystem. As the rats survived by feeding on eggs of various kinds, including turtles, this significantly impaired their reproduction, thus causing them to question their survival.
With the onset of more powerful species, devastating human activity, with extensive damage from the invasion of rats, turtles are put into a threatened species. This completely disrupted their natural order and the island ecosystem
According to scientists, the battle for their survival began in the 1960s, when their population was reduced to 100-200. Since then, conservationists have begun to do their best to save them. They began collecting eggs and threw out one hundred of them to another island and returned them to Pinzon after five years.
Given that rats were still a threat, in 2012 the Island Conservation, Galapagos National Park Directorate, together with other partners, launched a campaign to eradicate rats. Eventually, all the rats were destroyed with the help of a poisonous rat.
“The incredible eradication of rats on this island, carried out by the park service and others, has created the opportunity for turtles to reproduce for the first time.”
Gibbs continued with his efforts to conserve the turtle, so in 2014 he and his team went to the island and found ten new hatchlings crawling along the path in the first part of the Island. This was a sign for them and all the others who made the effort that it was not in vain, as the natural order in that ecosystem was finally restored.
He shared with the public that hard work, support, dedication, and conservation efforts have been proven to bring about positive change.
During their stay on the island, they found about 300 wild turtle babies.
According to Gibbs, this has not happened in almost 100 years. He and his team were sure there was a hundred times more than they could have noticed at the time.
He and other scientists believe that the number is now around 500, and most importantly, they were born and raised on the island. Gibbs rightly calls the meat – “an island in recovery.” These positive turtle results confirm the good work of the Galapagos National Park Service and all other associates.