Darwin Research Station
Located on the Isla Santa Cruz, a 20-minute walk northeast of Puerto Ayora, the Charles Darwin Research Station is part of the Charles Darwin Foundation for the Galapagos Islands. An international non-governmental and non-profit organization set up in 1959, the main purpose of the Charles Darwin Foundation is to protect the Galapagos and in doing so learn more about this unique geographical region. The headquarters of the foundation is based in Brussels, Belgium.
Dedicated to scientific research, education and conservation efforts, the Charles Darwin Research Station is a biological research center created in 1964 with the aim of assisting the Galapagos National Park Service and the Galapagos Marine Reserve Service to safeguard this vulnerable habitat. With a team of over two hundred scientists, researchers, students, and volunteers from all across the globe, the Darwin Research Station is committed to preserving this sensitive ecosystem. Not only are subjects of natural science taught here, but more complex topics such as climatology, population genetics and evolutionary biology are also touched upon.
The information gathered by the research station also helps to educate the masses, and is often published in books and scientific journals and reports to help people better understand this unique area. Additionally, the information also becomes part of the interpretive displays and literature found on the island, so that visitors are aware of how important a role the Galapagos has played in the formation of modern science and Darwin’s ‘Theory of Evolution’.
Besides the research station, there is a national park information center; an exhibition center with an informative museum; and an in-house turtle breeding program on the premises. Part of the breeding program is an adult tortoise enclosure, where one can walk in and meet these gentle giants face to face; and a baby tortoise house, where young tortoises and hatchlings are kept, until they can survive on their own in the wild. One of the main attractions here is Lonesome George, the sole survivor of the Isla Pinta subspecies of galapagos. And though many attempts have been made to find him a mate, so far all efforts have been unsuccessful.