When journalist Paul Rose and producer Neil Gelinas of the Pristine Seas Expedition were walking across Assumption Island in Seychelles, the two men accidentally interrupted a pair of Aldabra giant tortoises while mating. Quick to claim his territory, the frustrated male tortoise began a slow chase after the big apes who interrupted his lovemaking. Luckily, Gelinas had his video equipment on hand to capture the ensuing sluggish pursuit.
But there was absolutely no stopping him—he got close, very close, close enough that his snorting and spitting plus the look in his enraged eyes above his snapping powerful beak made us retreat in a panic. Panic over, I walked backward out of the bushes and he kept coming—there was no doubt that he would not stop until he had seen me off the island, preferably with significant pieces missing from my legs. And so we began a ludicrous, disconcerting, low-speed chase that took us across the low grass stubble and the adjacent concrete runway and alongside the bushes. If I hadn’t put on a good finishing sprint we would still be at it. The presence and vitality of these tortoises serves as a reminder that, given a chance, even in a once devastated ecosystem, nature will rebuild. The male’s fierce response to our presence nearby also reminds me to never, ever interrupt a mating session!