National Geographic : 1942 Jan
The National Geographic Magazine Dr. Raymond A. Dillon With Men Aloft, Yankee Considers Sailing Through This Rocky Cleft Her foreyard proved too wide, but the schooner drifted up close for a look at Kicker Rock, off San Cristobal Island, in the Galapagos. The peak, 486 feet high, seems split as though by a giant's axe. and slopes, all in brown with only scrub trees. Terrible stories occur repeatedly in GalA pagos history, a chronicle of shipwrecks and deaths of crime and thirst. Pirates also fit into the Galapagos picture. Many knew the archipelago well and may have buried treasure there. Darwin visited the islands in the Beagle in 1835 and formed basic theories on evolution from his observations. For human habitation, the prime drawback of the Galapagos is the lack of fresh water. San Crist6bal Island is the only one with a dependable amount, and consequently supports the only real village in the archipelago. Spots where anything green can be found growing are scarce. This very condition has been responsible for the specialty of the islands, land tortoises, or, in Spanish, galdpagos. These creatures, which seem hardly animate, may live one hundred years or more, grow to huge size, and, except in their extreme youth, get along for months at a time without food or water. We saw one weighing about 300 pounds, and they once are supposed to have reached some 600 pounds. Yet, surprisingly, they are excellent eating; the old sailors knew this well. Whalers, merchant ships, and men-of-war carried off thousands of them. The beasts could be dumped in the holds and forgotten until wanted.