Posted by: galapagosinc | April 21, 2010

Galapagos tortoises among the top 40 greatest nature photos of all time

In celebration of the inaugural Green Auction on the 40th Annual Earth Day, the National Geographic announced the Top 40 Greatest Nature Photos of all time.  “A polar bear dance, a doomed thresher shark, and a crowd of giant tortoises gathered at dawn in the Galapagos are just a few of the stunning images that have been selected.”

Giant tortoises in pond, Alcedo Volcano, Galapagos Islands. “The Galápagos Islands provide a window on time. In a geologic sense, the islands are young, yet they appear ancient. The largest animals native to this archipelago are giant tortoises, which can live for more than a century. These are the creatures that provided Darwin with the flash of imagination that led to his theory of evolution.

“Immutable as the tortoises seem, they were utterly vulnerable to the buccaneers and whalers who took them by the thousands in the last two centuries. But one population eluded them. Inside the Alcedo volcano on Isabela Island, an earlier era lingers. This caldera is sealed off from the outside world by steep lava slopes that rise to 3,860 feet on the equator.

“It was not until 1965 that an Ecuadorian biologist found a way down inside and discovered a world where giant tortoises roamed in primordial abundance. This group had presumably never seen humans…They hadn’t seen many more when I entered the time capsule of the caldera.

“For one memorable week, I lived among the tortoises of Alcedo. Photography one morning was one of those precious experiences where I could be part of a scene rather than a distant observer. The tortoises were resting in a pond as soft mist mingled with sulfur steam from nearby fumaroles and dust from an erupting volcano to the west, and I was able to create an image that evokes the era when reptiles dominated life on land.”–Frans Lanting.

National Geographic, Frans Lanting Photography

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