Observations of Theodor Wolf,
August - November 1875,
May - July 1878
Heinke Jäger, Editor
Heinke Jäger compiled the following notes from Theodor Wolf's Ein Besuch der Galápagos-Inseln, Sammlung von Vortraegen fuer das deutsche Volk (“A Visit to the Galápagos Islands: A Collection of Presentations for the German People”) in Biol. Centralblatt, 1892, vol. 12, pp. 221-250. Wolf refers to José de Valdizán here as “Baldisan.”
Additional feral animal notes added (in sans-serif font) based on notes from Barbara West, from information extracted from Georg Baur's “On the Origin of the Galápagos Islands” in The American Naturalist, April 1891, vol 25, pp. 307-326. Baur paraphrases Teodoro Wolf's Apuntes sobre el clima de las Islas Galápagos, segun los observaciones hechas durante un viaje en los Meses de Agosto a Noviembre de 1875. (“Notes on the Climate of the Galápagos Islands, from Observations made during a Voyage in the Months of August-November, 1875.”) in Bol. Observ Astronomico, 1879, Quito (further details unknown). Modern island names are given here.—JW.
- A penal colony in 1831. When Darwin visited in 1836 [sic, 1835] he found a village there with 200-300 inhabitants.
- Every 2-3 months the boat Benecia [Venecia] leaves from Guayaquil to the Galapagos to supply the over 60 Orchilla-collectors who work for Baldisan from Santa Elena.
- Baldisan built a house a half-hour walk from Playa Prieta inland (altitude: 436 feet) and a hacienda in the highlands (altitude: 900 feet), where the penal colony used to be. Workers cultivated different crops (see “Plants”) to supply the orchilla workers on San Cristóbal.
- 14-18 people lived on the island.
The following plants were cultivated on Baldisan's hacienda:
- cabbages (one 2 1/2 feet in diameter)
- ciruela trees
- fig trees
- fodder beets
- indigo plants
- palm trees (does not say which ones but says they were recently introduced)
- sugar cane
Big fig and ciruela trees grew around the water spring, which stemmed from the penal colony.
- only very few, more in the arid than in the humid zone, same on Floreana, Isabela, Santa Cruz and San Cristóbal. He caught a few Agraulis that looked like A. vanillae from the mainland. He also collected a Coliae, a small Lampidae (also common in Guayaquil) and a Goniurus.
- Native scorpion very common on all the islands, including little islets. It can be found under every rock.
- Centipede, very common, especially on San Cristóbal.
Agraulis — Agraulis vanillae galapagensis (Gulf Fritillary butterfly)
Coliae — Phoebis sennae marcellina (Cloudless Sulphur butterfly)
Goniurus — Urbanus dorantes galapagensis (Dorantes Longtail butterfly)
Lampidae — (beetle, no further identification recorded)
Native scorpion — (could be Hadruroides maculatus Galapagoensis or Centruroides exsul)
Centepede — (Scolopendra galapagoensis)
Source: Lazaro Roque-Albelo, Research Entomologist, Charles Darwin Research Station, Galápagos
- Floreana: did not see any snakes, very few lizards and only a few tortoises.
- Española: at that time over 60 Orchilla workers from San Cristóbal lived almost entirely for a month on the eggs collected from the albatross.
- Floreana: Nearby islets were almost entirely covered with eggs and chicks of seabirds (does not say which species).
Present on the islands: cattle, goats, horses, donkeys, pigs, dogs, cats, and chickens.
- Asses: Numerous on Floreana, Isabela, San Cristóbal, Santa Cruz. They live in troops of 10-15 and sit on their haunches like dogs and cats.
- Cats: All cats he saw on Floreana and San Cristóbal were completely black (He had rarely seen black cats in Guayaquil, were he lived for several years).
- Cattle: On Floreana 800-900, on San Cristóbal 2000-3000, a few on Sierra Negra (Isla Isabela).
- Chickens: On the highest, most inaccessible regions of Floreana.
- Dogs: Live in droves in both upper and lower regions (island(s) not cited).
- Goats: On Floreana number decreasing due to rising number of feral dogs. Found on arid mountains of Floreana, San Cristóbal and Santa Fe.
- Hogs: Occur on all the larger islands.
- Horses: Only on Floreana.