Dr. Stephen Blake - "Why would a 600 pound Galapagos tortoise haul itself up and down a volcano every year?"
11:30a.m. - 12:30p.m.
College of Natural Resources Room 10
Stephen Blake was born in 1965 near London in the UK. After leaving school he thought it would be a good idea to become an apprentice jockey. This didn’t work out because he didn’t like whipping racehorses to make then run faster, so he decided instead to study biology at the University of London, in the days when the government still paid for the education of their citizens. Following his BSc, Stephen worked as a gorilla keeper at Howletts Zoo in England between 1987-1990, before heading to Chile where he became a long drop digger in Patagonia. He then found himself in the Congo working with orphan gorillas and their reintroduction into the wild. He obtained a Masters Degree in Resource Management from the University of Edinburgh which opened the door to working with the Wildlife Conservation Society also in Congo where he was involved in national park management. He gained a PhD also from the University of Edinburgh on the ecology of forest elephants, after which he spend a few years as forest elephant conservation coordinator for WCS. Stephen failed completely in this task and forest elephants are plummeting toward extinction. Through a chance meeting in a bar in Amsterdam, Stephen ended up getting paid by the Max Planck Institute to glue GPS tags onto giant tortoises on the Galapagos Islands. He is now a biology lecturer at Saint Louis University, but spends his summers on the Galapagos pretending to be Charles Darwin and trying not to think too much about forest elephants being massacred for their teeth or why he left that fight.