Galapagos eruption threatens giant tortoise species

A huge eruption was recorded in recent days at the La Cumbre volcano, one of the most active in the Galápagos Islands. Ecuador authorities reported that, as the site is uninhabited, no one was injured. However, lava and smoke threaten the survival of the last known species of giant tortoise.

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Eruption lit up the night on the island (Image: reproduction/Galápagos National Park)

Eruption is one of the largest ever recorded at the site

La Cumbre, located on the island of Fernandina, erupted last Saturday (2) and lit up the night sky in the region. Lava was violently expelled from fissures located on the southeastern flank of the volcano and a 2 to 3 kilometer cloud of smoke was seen above the summit.

Authorities from the Geophysical Institute of Ecuador said this is probably the volcano's largest eruption since 2017. It is 1,476 meters high and last spewed lava in 2020.

According to Ecuadorian authorities, the duration of the most recent eruption cannot be predicted with precision. It is also unknown whether it will reach the coast.

Fernanda is the last example of the species Chelonoidis phantasticus (Image: reproduction/Galápagos National Park)

Threat of extinction

  • If volcanic activity does not pose risks to humans, the same cannot be said about the region's fauna.
  • The biggest concern is in relation to the giant tortoise Fernanda.
  • The female is just over 90 years old and was discovered on the island in 2019.
  • Her shell measures just 54 centimeters, which can be explained by the fact that she had little access to food and water during her life.
  • But the most interesting thing about the animal is that it is the last example of the species Chelonoidis phantasticus (The last male was identified in 1906 by the California Academy of Sciences).
  • Researchers point out that the lava and smoke seriously threaten Fernanda's survival, which could mean the extinction of this species of giant tortoise.
  • The eruption could also be harmful to a number of iguanas, penguins and (flightless) cormorants that also live on the island.
  • The information is from Euronews.

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