Monday, June 25, 2012

Lonesome George

I just got word that Lonesome George, the last remaining Pinta tortoise, has died. You can read the full story here. I feel much sadder about his death than I had expected to. After all, we have been working on finding replacements for the Pinta tortoise. But the extinction is so final - after so many decades of work by so many people, it happened anyway. George died without leaving any offspring, and now the Pinta lineage is gone. I have always felt honored to work on George's island. Now I feel a responsibility, a burden, settling onto my shoulders that before was only abstract. Extinctions really are forever, and we must do all that we can to stop them. And all the effort that went into saving the Pinta tortoise makes it even scarier. Many species go extinct with little notice or there are too few resources to do anything to help them before it's too late. I hope George's death will be a lesson, that he will be an even greater and more powerful icon in death than he was in life. George on Pinta in 1972 (taken by Ole Hamann).

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Video and news

Here's a link to a video that ESF's PR department put together from footage that we took of the field season last summer.

I'll be defending my MS thesis on the Pinta work in just a few short weeks. I've tremendously enjoyed the writing process (unlike any other time I've had to write something!). It's been so gratifying to see all of our hard work come together into these documents, these stories.

Amazingly, I get to go to the Galapagos again this summer. The Galapagos Conservancy and the Galapagos National Park have been planning for a few years a "tortoise summit" in which to gather together scientists and managers who have knowledge or interests in the conservation of giant tortoises in the Galapagos to decide how to approach giant tortoise conservation in the next 10 years. I am very honored to be invited and excited to share what I have learned about how tortoises can be used as ecosystem restoration tools. I'm excited to go back, too, of course. Though it's not Pinta, the bustling harbor town of Puerto Ayora still has its little corner with giant tortoises, and I yearn to see them again.

Saturday, July 30, 2011


We returned back to the US on Monday, and since then it has been a bit of a whirlwind for me preparing for my next adventure...Siberia! I won't go into the details here but it's a conservation project for the argali sheep (largest sheep in the world, I only work with the largest) and will involve hiking through mountain wilderness for 3 weeks. I leave on Monday. Become a conservation biologist and see the world, kids.

My shift back into normal US life was much easier this time than last, but maybe that's because I knew another wild place was right on the horizon.

I meant to post some Pinta pictures (courtesy of the crew) before I left, but in all the hecticness of packing, my computer with photos is now inaccessible. Will post when I return.

Do svidanya! (Or something like that...)

Thursday, July 21, 2011


We arrived back to Santa Cruz last night! All the noise and sights and people are overwhelming, but I think I adequately prepared myself for it this time. The strangest thing is speaking Spanish to someone other than Daniel - I have learned a lot from him, but it doesnt translate as well with other people!

Just a few days here on Santa Cruz putting things away and preparing samples for departure and then we return to the US.

I think we are all tired, but I woke up last night with my legs aching from lack of use. They needed a break, but only a couple of days apparently!

Monday, July 18, 2011


Waiting for the boat is somewhat agonizing, unsure of when to say goodbye. It is wrenching to leave this time, not knowing if ill ever come back. I hope so!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Goodbye Pinta!

Last day of fieldwork today, teared up saying goodbye to all my favorite places. Tomorrow de-seed clean and pack then wait for the boat which could come 18-20.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


We are taking radios off all the tortoises we can. Soon the airwaves above pinta will be silent, the tortoises roaming hidden in the landscape.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


We only have a week left on pinta! I can't believe how quickly the time went. my legs and feet want to leave but the rest wants to stay. maybe that can be arranged