Top 10 wildlife species in the Galápagos Islands
Located in the Pacific Ocean, 1000km off the coast of Ecuador the Galápagos Islands are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and are home to a diverse array of wildlife. Consisting of thirteen main islands surrounded by 133,000km² of marine reserve, the archipelago supports wildlife which has evolved with very little human contact and without any major predators, meaning that you can observe the fearless creatures at close range in their natural habitat. With over 200 recorded species, a large number of which are endemic to the area, this is a wildlife-enthusiast’s nirvana and every day of your visit will be filled with opportunities to enjoy encounters with them both on land and in the water.
Here are some of our favourites.
1. Blue-footed Booby
The island’s most iconic bird species is the blue-footed booby. Testament to its name, the blue-footed booby is easily identifiable by its bright blue feet and can be spotted diving and plunging into the water throughout the archipelago. Males take pride in their extravagant feet, showing off their intricate mating ritual in a little dance that involves lifting their feet up and down while strutting before a female.
2. Marine Iguana
Endemic to the Galápagos Islands, this unusual reptile can be found in its thousands sprawled across the shoreline lava, the black rocks camouflaging their presence. This is the only lizard in the world which can forage in the sea and can dive to over 10 metres.
3. Galápagos Sea Lion
Also endemic is the Galápagos sea-lion. Much loved by visitors, they can be spotted along the rocky shores of the islands, or even lazing on the benches in Puerto Ayora. If you’re diving or swimming in the warm waters you’re likely to come across a playful sea-lion or two.
4. Giant Tortoise
The best known endemic species of the archipelago, the giant tortoise can live for over 100 years and is the largest tortoise in the world, growing up to a hefty 250kg. There are now around 20,000 individuals at home on the Galápagos, many grazing in the highlands of Isabela and Santa Cruz.
5. Land Iguana
There are 3 species of land iguana in the Galápagos Islands, the most common being the yellow iguana which can be spotted on a number of different islands in the archipelago.
6. Galápagos Penguin
This is the only penguin which lives north of the equator and is one of the smallest penguins in the world. They can be found mainly on Isabela and Fernandina islands but can also be seen on Floreana, Santiago and Bartolome.
7. Flightless Cormorant
Out of the 29 species of cormorants, this endemic species cannot fly, meaning that they’re confined to Isabela and Fernandina.
8. Hammerhead shark
The Galápagos Marine Reserve is one of the few places on Earth where scalloped hammerheads can be seen gathering in large schools of up to several hundred sharks.
9. Waved Albatross
With a wingspan of up to 2.5m the waved albatross is the largest bird in the Galápagos and can only be found on Española. Spending almost all of its life at sea, the albatross returns to land each year from May – November to mate and breed.
10. American Flamingo
There are several hundred American flamingos at home in the Galápagos Islands; these tall, graceful birds inhabit brackish lagoons along the shoreline of the larger islands. They can be seen in lagoons from March to July.
So, whether you to choose to cruise from island to island or have a land-based holiday, you’re likely to encounter a huge variety of unique and beautiful animals on your trip to the Galápagos Islands. If you want to find out more, you can view a range of our Galápagos Island holidays on our website or in our dedicated Galápagos Islands brochure; or you can contact our Travel Consultants today on 0208 747 8315 to start planning your holiday.