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Animal Spotlight: Galapagos Giant Turtle

Introduction

The Galapagos Giant Turtle (scientific name Chelonoidis nigra) is the largest living species of turtle.  Today, they only exist in two different archipelagos: the Galapagos Islands west of Ecuador, and Aldabra in the Indian Ocean to the East of Tanzania. In the wild, these big guys can live 100 years or more! The size and shape of their shells can vary, as noted by Charles Darwin in his 1835 voyage to the Galapagos Islands on The Beagle.

On islands with humid highlands, the Galapagos is seen having a domed shell with a short neck, and are typically larger. On islands with dry lowlands, the tortoises are smaller with shells that are raised in front, and longer necks. 

Different Species For Different Islands

As might be expected, different types of Galapagos tortoises inhabit different islands as each has a different environment. The largest island, Isabela Island, hosts five different types including the Volcan Wolf, which is named for a nearby volcano. The island of Pinta hosts a turtle called Lonesome George, who is the last known of the C. Abingdonii species. 

Animal Spotlight Galapagos Giant Turtle

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Animal Spotlight: Coqui Frogs

Introduction 

Coquí refers to several different species of frogs native to Puerto Rico. They are named after the (very loud) mating sounds made by the males of the Mountain Coquí and the Common Coquí species. There are over 16 types of Coqui Frog, and amazingly enough, 13 different species can be found in Puerto Rico’s El Yunque National Forest. Other species of Coquí are scattered throughout the Carribean and other tropical areas such as Central America. This vast range of species has one defining characteristic: all the types of Coquís’ young hatch directly from egg to small frog, bypassing the Tadpole stage while they are still inside their eggs. 

Animal Spotlight Coqui Frog

Coquí In The Ecosystem

The Coquí frogs perform the role of predator in their ecosystem, eating bugs that would normally feast on trees and plants. Plants and trees are vital to the survival of the Coquí and other animals in the forest, because they produce oxygen for animals to live on, and also provide shelter to some species. The Coquí Frog has also appeared in Hawaii on the Island by the same name and on the Island of Mau, both of which view it as invasive and have tried to keep populations under control using various methods. 

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Endangered Animal of The Day: Hawksbill Turtle

The Hawksbill Turtle (scientific name Eretmochelys imbricata) is one of the most critically endangered species on the planet. Endangered species are a problem for everyone in the ecosystem, all the way up to us Humans. Cliche as it may sound, everything in nature really is interdependent. These turtles keep coral reefs in good shape and eat prey such as Sponges. This gives fish a better chance to feed, and we all know how dependent Humans are on a steady supply of fish. 

The Hawksbill is also a big attraction for visitors in the Coral Triangle (western Pacific Ocean), and thus provides natives with a huge amount of tourism dollars.

Hawksbill Turtle Endangered Species

Sadly, these animals are often hunted by Humans as some people eat the turtles’ eggs, and other big fish, sharks, and crocodiles also prey on these amazing creatures. The Hawkbills can grow about 45 inches, making them smaller than most other sea turtles. As young hatchlings, these guys can’t dive very deep and so stick to floating near the ocean’s surface. Since lots of animals feed on the Hawksbill, its extinction would mean trouble for those animals as well.