September 17th, 1835
Oh, how fine it feels to set my feet upon solid land once again! After months at sea, the Beagle reached the Galapagos Islands earlier this morning. First stop, San Cristóbal.
What wonderful sights can be beheld on these distant shores! Everywhere I turn, the flora bewitches, the fauna bedazzles! We have established a camp on the island in anticipation of several weeks’ intense scientific study.
I have taken quite a liking to the abundance of tortoises roaming the island. They are most unusual, with great shells that rise triumphantly at the front like a saddle, and long necks which stretch skywards to reach the crunchy cacti growing tall in the island’s rich soil. I shall name this new species the Saddle-backed Tortoise.
We continue to study these remarkable tortoises. Incidentally, our chef announced tonight that the expedition is running a little low on food. I’m sure he has considered some sort of Plan B.
Oh, drat! We have run completely out of food—quite a ghastly error indeed. We are so far from home, I’m really not sure what we might do.
These tortoises taste terrific!
Another busy day spent eating tortoise. I can’t believe I’d never tried it before. Their magnificent necks are the best part. As the crew ate together tonight, I got everyone to save the necks for me. I have even placed one by my bedside, should I grow peckish during the night.
It would seem that in our frenzy, we exhausted the copious supply of delicious tortoises on San Cristóbal. So again we set sail, just a “hop” to Floreana, the next island along.
Land Ho! And behold, more tortoises! It’s like I died and woke up in tortoise Heaven. They are simply everywhere.
Between mouthfuls, the chef noted today that the tortoises on this second island stand much lower to the ground than their saddle-backed compatriots, likely due to the abundance of vegetation there. A shame in some ways, since there’s less of that delightful neck for me. Nevertheless, I shall name this curious new discovery the Dome-shaped Tortoise.
How could two islands of near-identical climate, geology, and elevation give rise to two such distinct, yet delicious creatures? Science rocks.
We continue to discover fresh ways of consuming tortoise. You’d think one would grow sick of them, but no! Today we even found a new kind of bread on the island; soft and doughy like a roll, yet long and cylindrical like a submarine. I shall name it the Submarine Roll, and it shall act as a vessel for delivering tortoises into my mouth.
I could eat nothing but tortoise forever. Look how many I can fit in my mouth!
If I even look at another tortoise, I’ll be sick. So, once again we set sail! It’s about time we did some work, too. Our destination: the glorious, tortoise-free island of Isabela!
I had been so preoccupied with the tortoises that I had neglected to survey the full wealth of extraordinary creatures inhabiting these tropical shores! The exotic birds here are multitudinous, and magnificent.
I have taken quite a particular interest in the Finches which flutter about the treetops. They are markedly different from those which we saw back on the mainland.
What great volumes of work one can accomplish when one is not preoccupied by the delicious tortoise! In total, we have counted 13 distinct species of Finch on the island, all previously unknown to us.
Curiously, it would seem the individual species of Finch can be identified from the shape of the beak—the various shapes can be arranged to form a perfect gradation. Raised in geographical isolation from one another, each species has developed a set of distinctive features. Fascinating!
We remain enthralled by the many varieties of Finch on these islands. How might they best be catalogued and compared? I’ve asked the chef to prepare a tasting menu for tonight.
I’ve eaten a truly disturbing amount of birds today. We all have. Tomorrow will be a rest day. We shall prepare salads using the island’s extraordinary flora.
Had forgotten that I hate salad. Luckily, found some extra room in my stomach for more birds. Incidentally, the different textures of Finch also form a perfect gradation, from fine and stringy through to firm and stodgy.
Alas, the time has come to hit the seven seas once again. I shall dearly miss this veritable paradise.
Got hungry for birds and turned back.
Right, this time I mean it. No more birds. Anchors up.
I pretended I had left my wallet on the island but really I just wanted to eat more birds. Found a tortoise and ate that too.
I’m so full, I can barely remember our reason for visiting these delicious islands in the first place. We hardly got any science done, but who cares—I’ll make up some theory on the way home. Onwards we sail, in search of a light dessert!