A little tortoise


A little tortoise



Among the most common supports in an audiovisual collection are slides: a type of photographic film that produces a positive image on a transparent base.

The Charles Darwin Foundation (CDF) collection of slides is one of the largest in its archive: it includes more than 10,000 items. It is made up of original images (and sometimes unique and unpublished) taken by different scientists and photographers who have worked at the Charles Darwin Research Station (CDRS).

Among them is a snapshot of a small Galapagos tortoise, placed on the shell of an adult.

The authorship of the slide could not be confirmed. The existing data indicate that it was used in a WWF program entitled Galapagos: The islands at the end of the world, and that it was part of those sets of slides that, together with a written script and, sometimes, several audio cassettes, were distributed by the organization at least 40 years ago for environmental education and awareness purposes.

Within the CDF photographic collection there are numerous images that collect different moments of the giant tortoise breeding program in Galapagos, and immortalize many of its architects, participants and collaborators, both from the Galapagos National Park and the Charles Darwin Foundation.

Yet this particular image condenses into itself that entire program, that entire project, all the ideas that drove that work, and all the wishes that gave it wings. The slide suggests that, thanks to the CDF's work, the little turtle will have at least one chance to become an adult.

It is a whole story of hopes and efforts —and the promise of another story, that of a tortoise life in some Galapagoan landscape— embedded in a colorful rectangle of three-by-four film, and stored with thousands of other stories waiting to be discovered, remembered and relived.

[See also: Letter 8].


  Anderson, A. et al. (2016). Reconsidering Precolumbian human colonization in the Galápagos Islands, Republic of Ecuador. Latin American Antiquity, 27 (2), June, pp. 169-183.


Unknown author. [Galapagos tortoises]. [Slide]. [N.d.] : [n.d.], [ca1980]. [N.d.] : col. ill. : 3 x 5 cm. DDC 508. Well preserved.

  Subject categories: Conservation | Herpetology | History of CDF | History of Galapagos | History of science
  Keywords: Endangered animals | Reptiles | Slides | Tortoises
  Time framework: 1980


Text & picture: (edgardo.civallero@fcdarwin.org.ec).
Publication date: 1 December 2021
Last update: 1 December 2021