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as music in the woods,” Bauters assured, quick to dispel any spooky connotations. On my last day, after exploring Reserva El Chato, a family- owned tortoise reserve where the reptiles migrate between lowlands and highlands, and trekking through a lava tunnel the day before, Salazar brought me and other guests on a boat trip to Plaza Sur to see sea lions and the hybrid iguanas which are the highlight of the island, since only a few exist in the whole of Galapagos. Though disappointed that I wouldn’t get to see the colonies of blue- footed boobies and red frigate birds on North Seymour Island or the penguins on Fernandina or Isabela, we are lucky to spot two of the hybrid iguanas after walking around the 0.13km island. A first-generation hybrid, these intriguing genetic chimeras are theorised to be sterile.
Despite capping visitor numbers to preserve the wildlife on this UNESCO World Heritage site, populations are dwindling. There were once 300,000 tortoises across 15 species in these islands. Today there are only 15,000 across 11 endangered species. It would certainly be a shame if the strange and wondrous denizens of this land seemingly lost to time soon find themselves racing against the clock. ≠
We are lucky to spot two of the hybrid iguanas on Plaza Sur.