12th October 1835

On the 12th I paid a second visit to the houses, bringing with me a blanket bag to sleep in. — I thus enjoyed two days collecting in the fertile region. — Here were many plants, especially Ferns; the tree Fern however is not present. The tropical character of the Vegetation is stamped by the commonest tree being covered with compound flowers of the order of Syngynesia. — The tortoise when it can procure it, drinks great quantities of water: Hence these animals swarm in the neighbourhead of the Springs. — The average size of the full-grown ones is nearly a yard long in its back shell: they are so strong as easily to carry me, & too heavy to lift from the ground. — In the pathway many are travelling to the water & others returning, having drunk their fill. — The effect is very comical in seeing these huge creatures with outstreched neck so deliberately pacing onwards. — I think they march at the rate 360 yards in an hour; perhaps four miles in the 24. — When they arrive at the Spring, they bury their heads above the eyes in the muddy water & greedily suck in great mouthfulls, quite regardless of lookers on.

Wherever there is water, broard & well beaten roads lead from all sides to it, these extend for distances of miles. — It is by this means that these watering places have been discovered by the fishermen. — In the low dry region there are but few Tortoises: they are replaced by infinite numbers of the large yellow herbivorous Lizard mentioned at Albermale Isd. — The burrows of this animal are so very numerous; that we had difficulty in finding a spot to pitch the tents. — These lizards live entirely on vegetable productions; berrys, leaves, for which latter they frequently crawl up the trees, especially a Mimosa; never drinking water, they like much the succulent Cactus, & for a piece of it they will, like dogs, struggle [to] seize it from another. Their congeners the "imps of darkness" in like manner live entirely on sea weed.— I suspect such habits are nearly unique in the Saurian race.

In all these Islds the dry parts reminded me of Fernando Noronha; perhaps the affinity is only in the similar circumstance of an arid Volcanic soil, a flowering leafless Vegetation in an Intertropical region, but without the beauty which generally accompanies such a position.

During our residence of two days at the Hovels, we lived on the meat of the Tortoise fried in the transparent Oil which is procured from the fat. — The Breast-plate with the meat attached to it is roasted as the Gauchos do the "Carne con cuero". It is then very good. — Young Tortoises make capital soup — otherwise the meat is but, to my taste, indifferent food.

Note: According to FitzRoy, several tortoises were eventually brought alive to England. He recorded that a hunting party brought 18 on board from Chatham Island on 18 September, and a further 30 on 12 October. 'The largest we killed was three feet in length from one end of the shell to the other: but the large ones are not so good to eat as those of about fifty pounds weight — which are excellent, and extremely wholesome food.'

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal
The 12th was spent in filling water, washing, cutting some wood, and bringing thirty large terrapin on board. These animals abound hereabouts; and some are very large, deserving the name of elephant-tortoises. Two of our party tried to reach the higher and thickly wooded part of the island, but found their task impracticable, in so short a time as they could spare, for the wood grows impenetrably thick, though none is straight or of a large size. The upper grounds have a rich loamy soil, lying upon rock, in which the terrapin wallow like hogs, and may be found by dozens. This was a very hard day's work for so few men as were then on board our small vessel.

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