Charles Darwin Research Center
We had breakfast at 6:30, then walked through Puerto Ayora to the Charles Darwin Research Center (CDRC). The CDRC primarily focuses on conversation and preservation of threatened or endangered species in the Galapagos Islands. It also serves as a visitor center that most tourists visit. The star attraction are the giant tortoises. For most Galapagos tours, there are limited, if any, opportunities for seeing tortoises in the wild, and the Charles Darwin Research Center provides an opportunity to do so, and see them up close. Most tortoises at the center are brought here before they even hatch, to protect them against feral dogs, goats, and pigs. Once they are large enough that they are no longer prey, they are returned to their native islands. It is estimated that the tortoise population was decimated, mostly by early settlers and visitors, and that over 150,000 tortoises were taken or killed. The population is much lower today, but has begun to rebound thanks to the efforts of the CDRC.