Google Maps Street View: ‘Breathtaking’ moment rare Galapagos tortoise is spotted

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Google Maps Street View was developed as a tool to help people discover locations around the world. Increasingly, though, users are beginning to notice it also has a habit of uncovering some jaw-dropping moments unfolding in all corners of the globe.

One user recently came across a rare wild animal while they were browsing the virtual world.

The moment unfolded on the Galapagos Islands, an archipelago in Ecuador.

The island is around 3.5 million years old and is home to some very rare and unique animals.

One of these is the focus of the scene, which the user described as “breathtaking”.

It was such a special moment they decided to share their findings with a dedicated Reddit forum for Google Maps sightings.

The main focus of the scene is a Galapagos tortoise.

In the image, the giant creature can be seen making its way through the long grass as the sun shines down on its large shell.

Just metres from the animal, viewers can even make out its facial details.

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What’s more, it appears the tortoise has a clump of grass in its mouth, obviously enjoying a snack.

The creature is surrounded by ferns, which are also native to the island.

In fact, around 100 fern species call the Galapagos home.

Galapagos tortoises are named after their homeland and are native to the region.

They are the largest living species of tortoise, with some modern Galapagos tortoises weighing as much as 417kg (919lb).

Furthermore, they are one of the longest living vertebrates on the planet.

Galapagos tortoises can live for more than 100 years.

One of the most famous known recordings was a captive tortoise named Harriet who lived for at least 175 years.

Of course, not much is known about the tortoise snapped on Google Maps Street View but it certainly captured users’ attention.

Galapagos tortoise numbers declined from over 250,000 in the 16th century to a low of around 3,000 in the 1970s.

Today four species are extinct and only 10 percent of the original number remain.

However, it is thought that there are currently 20,000–25,000 wild tortoises living on the islands today.

There are also a number of initiatives working to help restore tortoise populations throughout the archipelago.

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