Travel E-Log #7: Santa Cruz

Dear Students:

This week, Lilia and I visited Lonesome George at the Santa Cruz Giant Tortoise Rearing Center (part of The Charles Darwin Research Station) in Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island. So, to start this report, I've rendered the story of Lonesome George - or Jorge Solitario -- into bilingual, poetic form. Even if you don't speak or study Spanish, you might be able to figure out many of the Spanish words in the poem by considering which English words they might be related to (as we discussed in an early report) or by the context. If that doesn't work for you, check the list below.

TIP: Here's a simple pronunciation key for the Spanish words: a = ah; e = ay; i = ee; o = oh; u = ooh; j = h; g = h or (as the second g in gigante) hard g. Note, Spanish accent marks are not included.

Jorge Solitario

Gather 'round young and old, muster up your coraje
I'll tell you a story often told of the one and only Lonesome Jorge
But let me warn you right up front, the tale is profundamente sadGalapagos Giant Tortoise
On account of Jorge's confinement and his unrelenting soledad

Jorge is a famoso gigante, a one of a kind Galapagos tortuga
He has lived a life elegante, munching cactus and various lechugas
But the crux of the matter tragico, is of all the turtles on our wide planeta
Jorge is el unico of the especie from the island known as Pinta (1)

His raza was destruido due to persistente human greed
And, with animales introducidos, a devastando lack of feed
Being grande, lento y duradero and, to the tastebuds, really quite rico
Whalers and piratas muy crudos found the gentle giants irresistibly atractivo (2)

Plucked from Pinta Isla like so many chickens from a single coop
Jorge's unlucky familia were the main ingrediente in mariner 'chicken' soup
And now only a cementerio fosile remains to remind us of the tortoise's fate
For it appears as though Jorge's transplante may be a little too little, a little too late

The scientificos have tried to match ol' Jorge with many a Galapagos lassy
But it seems the genes just don't quite fit, or Jorge is simplemente too classy
For all the matchmaking, it looks as if Jorge is destinado to remain alone
And he'll be the last of his kind, sniff-sniff, unless the scientists can producir a clone (3).



1. Of the 14 subspecies of Giant Galapagos Tortoises, 3 are now extinct and Lonesome George is the only known member of the subspecies, Geochelone elephantopus abingdoni, which formerly only lived on Pinta Island. (Some scientists say there were fifteen subspecies.)
2. Since the giant tortoises could live for a year without food, they made ideal meat for sailors long at sea. In 1959, fishermen put goats on Pinta Island to have an extra source of food while fishing near Pinta. The goats thrived to the further detriment of the tortoises, severely diminishing the tortoises' natural food source.
3. Scientists removed L. George from Pinta and keep him in a corral with female tortoises from different subspecies. So far, the pairings have produced no offspring, so scientists are contemplating cloning as a way of avoiding extinction.


Here's a list of the Spanish words used in the poem, along with their English translations:
Jorge - George
solitario - lonesome
coraje - courage
profundamente - profoundly
soledad - loneliness, solitude
famoso - famous
gigante - giant
tortuga - tortoise (or turtle)
elegante - elegant
lechugas - lettuce (but here used to mean greens or vegetation)
tragico - tragic
planeta - planet
el unico - the only one
especie -- species
raza - race or subspecies
destruido - destroyed
persistente - persistent
Male Tortoises fighting
animales introducidos - introduced animals
devastando - devastating
grande - big
lento -- slow
y - and
duradero - long-lasting
rico - delicious (or rich)
piratas -- pirates
muy -- very
crudos -- cruel
atractivo -- attractive
isla - island
familia ingrediente -- ingredient
cementerio fosile - fossil cemetery
transplante - transplanting or relocation
scientificos -- scientists
simplemente - simply
destinado -- destined
producir - (to) produce


If you've been studying the Galapagos Islands, you've probably heard of Lonesome George and his sad story. If not, your teachers have the addresses of some Web sites you may visit to learn more. Lilia and I actually saw Lonesome George when we visited the Rearing Center, but we were too far away to get a good picture. We could hardly tell him apart from the boulders next to him. Oh well, at we least we can say we saw (perhaps) the last Pinta tortoise. By the way, in case you might be interested, there is a $10,000 reward for anyone who can find a female Pinta for George. Buena suerte! (Good luck!)

The poem also brings up the topic of introduced animals. Remember that phrase because we're going to talk about in our next report.


Guess-Who Animal Math Poem

Here's another guess-who animal math poem. Guess who, and then try to draw the angles mentioned in the poem:

Geometric Angling

Circles over the bay, on a plane with the sea
Diving straight as a ray, so mathematically
Three-sixty, one-eighty, forty-five, ninety
You'll need a compass and a protractor to keep up with me

'Cause it's a matter of degrees
It's all about the angle
It's a matter of degrees
It's all about the angle

My top gun cruising is an art of precision
Success is determined by a split decision
Body control and crystal clear vision
Are what you will need if you want to go angling with me
With me
With my squadron and me
Dive-bombing in the sea
As free as can be
So geometrically
Angling with me

'Cause it's a matter of degrees
It's all about the angle
It's a matter of degrees
It's all about the angle

Oh, I'm aerodynamic (Zoom!)
No splash in the pan trick (Swoosh!)
No thieving pirate ship (Vroom!)
I cut right to the quick (Whoosh!)

Eighty when the target's deep, thirty if it's shallow
Fifty when it's in between, just watch how I gooooooooĦ­ Kerplunk! S

lam dunk!
Just watch how I go!
Slicing through the sky
Cutting up the pie
Angling for fry - Hey!

'Cause it's a matter of degrees
It's all about the angle
It's a matter of degrees
It's all about the angle



We'll tell you the answer in the next report. Speaking of answers, the photos attached to this report should give away the answer to the last poem Brown Pelicanand to the mystery photo puzzle. Drum roll please.... (I'm sure you know by now): the BROWN PELICAN! The percentages in the poem, in case you figured them out, were 122/200 or 61%; 23/100 or 23%; 4/4 or 100%; and 0/1000 or 0%. And here are the answers to the bird name matching activity in the last report: 1. G.; 2. E.; 3. I.; 4. B.; 5. D.; 6. H.; 7. A; 8. F.; 9. J.; 10. C.


Also, don't forget to vote for the cutest Galapagos animal on our new Web site section, Cutest of the Cute.


Question and Answer Exchange:

Here are more answers to your questions, provided by students at Thomas de Berlanga School on Santa Cruz:

Do you have a cafeteria at your school?
No, the school day ends at 1:00 and we go home for lunch. But, we do have a food bar where we can buy snacks during break.

Do you walk to school?
No, our school is in the highlands, outside of our town, so we all take a bus to school. [Note from Paul: Most students in the other schools we visited walked to school, while some took buses or taxis or rode a bus.]

What kind of clothes do you wear?
We wear shorts, pants, socks, shirts, dresses, skirts, hats and jackets. At school, we wear a uniform.

What are the main plants on your island?
We have many, but a few of the most common ones are mangrove trees, palm trees, thorn bushes/trees (of many different kinds), muyuyu trees, scalesia trees, mosses (many hanging from the branches of the trees), different kinds of cactus, ferns, plus lots of fruits and vegetables that we grow in the highlands.

What would a typical meal be for you?
Most of our meals have rice. Besides that, we eat a lot of seafood and fish, though sometimes we have chicken or pork or beef. Some of the meals have soup, usually with potatoes or noodles and vegetables, sometimes with cheese. Is your island mostly agricultural, natural forest or city? Our island has one large town and a few small towns. In the highlands, there are many Iguanas in a groupfarms, but the rest of the island is covered with lava rocks and trees or thorny plants.

Describe your typical family day.
[Note from Paul: There were many different responses to this one. Most students mentioned playing with friends and siblings as their main outside of school activity. Some, though, mentioned helping their parents or other family members, fishing, selling things in a family shop, or serving people in a family restaurant. Some mentioned going to the beach, going to church, eating meals and visiting relatives with their family.]

Why do they call them push-me pull-me iguanas?
[Note from Paul: Again, the students we asked never heard of that name, but a parent of one of the students provided an explanation: When the large male marine iguanas fight with each other (over females and territory), they sometimes line up side by side, one facing in one direction and the other facing in the other direction. They circle around biting each other in the tail, sometimes holding on and pulling. At other times, they square off head to head and, if they can't scare their opponent away with threatening grunts and repetitive head jerks, then they butt heads, pushing the other back. So it looks like they are pushing and pulling each other. Sometimes, one iguana can win without a fight; other times one will win after a short fight; and if the two are well matched, sometimes the fight will last for a half an hour or more.]


Well, that's it for this report. Soon we'll be heading to Isabela Island, so we'll send our next report from there. Till next time, learn lots!

Paul Hurteau and Lilia Cai

Teachers: Here are a couple of links to Web pages containing information about Lonesome George:

Index Page
Meet the Adventure Team
E-Log#1: New York
E-Log#2: Quito, Ecuador

E-Log#3: San Cristobal, Galapagos

E-Log#4: San Cristobal, Galapagos

E-Log#5: Santa Cruz Island
E-Log#6: Santa Cruz
E-Log#7: Santa Cruz
E-Log#8: Isabela Island
E-Log#9: Isabela


© 2007 OneWorld Classrooms. Text by Paul Hurteau. Photos by Dennis Pippen, Lilia Cai and Miguel Mosquero. All rights reserved.