One of the things that The Galapagos Islands are known for is their vast array of unique wildlife! The islands are home to more than 200 different recorded species of animal, and several of them are endemic- meaning they are not found anywhere else in the world!
Today I would like to give you my list of the top animals to try to see during your visit to the Galapagos, and when and how to view them… Let’s go!
The Giant Galapagos Tortoise
Giving their name to the islands themselves (Galápagos means tortoise), these giant reptiles have become the face of the archipelago. Unfortunately, they are also on the endanger species list. They are also endemic, so there has been much care given in the past decade or so to ensure their safety and preservation.
You are able to see these gentle giants on the islands of Isabela, Santa Cruz, Pinzon, Española, Santiago, and San Cristobal all year long.
These very special reptiles are the only sea lizards on the planet! And they can only be found in the Galapagos! They live in groups called ‘colonies,’ and have the ability to forage in the sea for algae- which makes up the majority of their diet.
Marine iguanas can be found on the islands of Fernandina, Española, Floreana, Isabela, and Santa Cruz. They can be seen all year long, however January – March is their prime time.
An endemic species, and the only penguins in the world that live north of the equator. The cool waters of the Humboldt and Cromwell Currents allow them to survive despite the tropical latitude. Unfortunately, these guys are also on the endangered species list.
This unique species of penguin lives primarily on the islands of Isabela, Fernandina, Floreana, and Santiago and can be seen year-round, however your best chances to see them are in the cooler months of August and September.
Blue Footed Boobies
There are 3 different species of boobies found in the Galapagos, but the blue-footed are probably the most unique to look at. They are aptly named for their blue feet, and clownish behaviors (‘boobie’ referring to being somewhat silly.)
These birds are found on Fernandina, Isabela, Pinzon, Floreana, Santa Cruz, and Española. They can be seen year-round, but the best time to view them is between June-August.
The protected Galapagos marine reserve is home to 15 different ray species. Snorkelers and divers have a great chance of encountering these unique creatures up close and in large groups as they glide gracefully along the ocean floor.
These ‘winged’ sea creatures can be found around the northern islands of Darwin and Wolf from December-May.
Though, there are a great number of different sharks that can be seen in the Galapagos archipelago, this one is the largest shark in the ocean! That’s right whale sharks are the world’s largest fish, and one of the most exciting creatures to see in person! They are a mild-tempered beast that poses a low threat to visitors. Unfortunately, they are also endangered.
These gentle beasts can be found from June – November in the north near Wolf and Darwin Island.
Galapagos Sea Lions
The most abundant sea animal in the archipelago, but also an endangered one due to climate change and natural predators. The Galapagos Sea lions are one of 2 seal species found in the archipelago.
Sealions can be found on every island all year long, likely sunbathing on the beach or among rocks.
Red Rock Crab
Also known as the “Sally Light Foot Crab,” these little guys are brightly-coloured coastal scavengers, feeding on just about anything they come across. This makes them a truly important part of the ecosystem, as they keep the coasts and shore lines clean.
These crabs can be found on every island all year long, and are typically found in shallow pools or amongst the rocks.
Although there are many different species of lizards in The Galapagos, Lava Lizards are the most abundant reptile seen throughout the archipelago.
Lava lizards are found on all islands except Genovesa, Darwin and Wolf. They can be see all year long, likely soaking up the sun, usually atop lava rocks.
Made famous by the scientist himself, there are 13 different species of finches within the archipelago. Darwin’s finches are all very similar in shape, size and colour, but there are a few differences which can help when identifying them. These include diet, habitat, and beak size and shape.
You are able to see these small birds throughout all of the islands all year long.
Of the 29 cormorant species, this one is the most unique! Not only is it endemic to the islands, but it is the heaviest of the species, and the only one that cannot fly.
They are mainly found on the north western coasts of Isabela and the east coast of Fernandina. They can be seen nesting May – October, but are present year-round.
With this many endemic and endangered species, it’s no wonder there is so much concern with keeping the Park as conserved as possible. The following is a link to the Galapagos Conservation Trust, where you can help make a difference by donating. Please consider this option to ensure this amazing archipelago and all of its inhabitants can continue thriving for years to come. https://galapagosconservation.org.uk/
Please always be kind to the Earth. Don’t litter. Don’t vandalize. And always keep your distance from the wildlife.
Thanks for taking the time to check out my list! If you’re interested in learning more about the Galapagos, please check out these other related posts:
Featured Blog Post:
“Introduction to The Galapagos“
“10 Things To Know Before You Go To The Galapagos“
“11 Unique Animals To See In The Galapagos”
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