The Galapagos are a haven for sea turtles, and are increasingly recognized as crucially important to the conservation of the eastern Pacific green turtle (Chelonia mydas; featured here). This species is more abundant in the Galapagos than anywhere else on earth. Two other species breed in the islands: the hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbriocota) and the leatherback (Dermochelys olivacea). Turtles worldwide are threatened by loss of breeding habitatsecluded beaches with easy access to the ocean, just the sort of beaches people like to visit for vacations. The danger comes not so much from losing beach area to lay their eggs, but from the lights of beach develeopments which disorient hatchlings who head for the condos and streetlights instead of where they are meant to go: the ocean. Whilst breeding, the turtles eat very little. During other times, they eat a variety of slow-moving sealife such jelly fishes. Many turtles have choked to death on a clear plastic bag that it mistook for a jellyfishemphasizing the need for disposing of waste properly.
The best place to see turtles, especially if you do not want to get wet, is at Black Turtle Cove, on the north coast of Santa Cruz Island. During the peak mating season from November to January, dozens of males and females congregate and, with luck, you may encounter a mating pair. This one is a male, which can be readily distinguished by his longer tail and smaller size.