Which island is named after a tortoise?

The Galapagos Islands were discovered in 1535. This group of islands lies at a distance of about 10,000 kilometres off the coast of Ecuador in South America. The Galapagos Islands are named for the huge tortoise that lived on these islands – ‘galapago’ in Spanish means, ‘saddle’ and refers to the tortoise shell. It is believed that long, long ago; these giant turtles must have floated to the island from South America on pieces of driftwood.

 The most impressive facts about the Galapagos giant tortoise is that, they keep growing for 30 to 40 years, reaching almost one and a half metres. These are the largest tortoises in the world. In general, they are the longest living of all vertebrates – that is, animals with backbones- the oldest on record lived for 152 years.

Throughout the 19th century, giant tortoises were valued by sailors as food supply. They discovered that these docile animals could live for months without food or water, flipped on their backs, and stacked in the cargo hold of ships. This gave the sailors a ready source of fresh meat, and thousands of these tortoises were killed.