Home » Volcano erupts on Galápagos island where last known ‘fantastic giant tortoise’ was found

Volcano erupts on Galápagos island where last known ‘fantastic giant tortoise’ was found

by Marko Florentino
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Fernanda, a lone female, was discovered on Fernandina in 2019 and is now fated to become an endling.

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A volcano has erupted on an island in the Galápagos where the last known survivor of a species of giant tortoise was discovered.

The La Cumbre volcano on Fernandina island began erupting on Saturday night, lighting up the nighttime sky as lava tumbled down its sides toward the sea.

Fernandina was home to Fernanda, a lone female giant tortoise who was discovered living on an isolated vegetation patch on the island in 2019.

Read the full story of Fernanda’s discovery here.

Officials from Ecuador’s Geophysical Institute said it could be the largest eruption La Cumbre has seen since 2017. The 1,476-metre volcano last erupted in 2020.

The La Cumbre volcano is one of the most active in the Galápagos Island chain, which is famous throughout the world for helping 19th century British scientist Charles Darwin develop his theory of evolution.

Will wildlife on the island be affected?

There are no humans living on the island, which is home to a number of species including iguanas, penguins and flightless cormorants.

One person who got uniquely close to the eruption on 3 March is Dr Jorge Carrión, director of conservation at the Galápagos Conservancy, a US-based nonprofit dedicated to the protection and restoration of the Galápagos Islands.

While on a conservation mission to Wolf Volcano on neighbouring Isabella island, he witnessed columns of gas and ash rising into the night sky above Fernandina.

“The current eruption of La Cumbre Volcano, while not posing a significant immediate threat to any Galápagos wildlife, serves as a stark reminder of the constant volcanic activity that has shaped these islands over millions of years and still can occasionally imperil species,” the Galápagos Conservancy writes on its website.

Fernanda the giant tortoise was relocated after her discovery. She is currently housed in the Giant Tortoise Breeding Center in Santa Cruz, the conservancy said in December.

A large-scale mission to find a male mate for the female tortoise on Fernandina has so far proved fruitless. Sadly, Fernanda looks fated to become an endling of her species.



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