Giant Aldabra Tortoise

Gina Ruttle  (Whalegeek)

Palos Park, United States

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Artist's Description

Aldabra Atoll, Seychelles, the the realm of Geochelone gigantea, the giant Seychelles tortoise. Living on this remote atoll in the midst of the Indian Ocean, mature male tortoises exhibit mammoth proportions, their average weight being 551 pounds (250kg) with carapaces (shells) measuring up to 4 feet (122cm) in length. Females are slightly smaller, weighing in at an average 330 pounds (150kg) while measuring circa 3 feet (91cm) long.

Indigenous to the Seychelles, many different species of giant tortoises once inhabited other islands, the majority of them now extinct in the wild with the remainder under severe pressure from habitat destruction as well as predation by cats, rats, and other introduced predators. In long-gone days of sailing ships, tortoises were hunted by passing sailors for food. Not requiring great amounts of water or food to survive over long periods of time, giant tortoises were perfect sources of fresh meat on interminable ocean voyages. Aldabra tortoises faced extinction before being protected by international agreement. On Aldabra, the good news is that the tortoises are hanging on, an estimated 150,000 documented on the atoll’s four islands. Despite this, the Aldabra giant tortoise is listed by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) as ‘Threatened’ or, in the estimation of other organizations, ‘Endangered.’ Today no predators threaten the tortoises yet their range is restricted to such a small habitat that their continuing existence is considered to hang in the balance. More mundane threats include falling into a limestone pothole and not being able to extricate themselves or simply tumbling over on uneven ground, unable to right themselves.

Canon 40D, Tamron 28-75mm lens, shutter 1/60, f/5.6, focal length 28mm, ISO 400.

March 13, 2008.

Wild Nature Photography & Writing (January 2011)

Artwork Comments

  • Teresa Zieba
  • Gina Ruttle  (Whalegeek)
  • Virginia N. Fred
  • Gina Ruttle  (Whalegeek)
  • Esperanza Gallego
  • Gina Ruttle  (Whalegeek)
  • mikrin
  • Gina Ruttle  (Whalegeek)
  • Anne-Marie Bokslag
  • Gina Ruttle  (Whalegeek)
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