Galapagos islands animals are some of the most unique and rare on earth! In fact, this volcanic archipelago is home to some of the world’s most astounding wildlife, with a large proportion of endemic species. Therefore, if you travel to the Galapagos Islands you can see animals that are found nowhere else on earth. It’s little wonder Charles Darwin drew so much inspiration from this tiny island group in the Pacific Ocean! Sealife, birdlife and reptiles are especially varied here, and 86% of the Galapagos’ reptiles are endemic to the islands. If you’re lucky enough to travel to Ecuador and visit these islands, you’re sure to be captivated by the Galapagos Islands wildlife. Here are 8 of the most incredible Galapagos Islands animals to look out for:
One of the most unusual animals in the Galapagos is the Marine Iguana. Whilst your average iguana is a tree-dwelling creature, the Galapagos Marine Iguana prefers exploring the sea to feed on seaweed and algae. Black or dark grey in colour, these unique amphibian iguanas love diving into the sea at low tide. They are usually spotted warming themselves in the sun on the shore in between dips. Each Galapagos island has their own subspecies of Marine Iguana so you can spot a slightly different type on each island. Undoubtedly, a wildlife highlight of a trip to the Galapagos Islands!
Giant Tortoise: the most famous Galapagos islands animal
Perhaps the most famous of all Galapagos islands animals, the giant tortoise is seriously huge. Often growing up to 4-feet long and weighing in at more than 300kg these creatures are simply enormous. So famous are these animals, it’s thought that the islands were named after an old Spanish word for ‘tortoise’! You can sight these Galapagos islands animals on Isabela, Santa Cruz, Pinzon, Española, Santiago, and San Cristobal all year long. Inclined to spend their days grazing on the long grass, a trip to the Galapagos would be incomplete without meeting these amazing creatures.
Galapagos Fur Seal
You don’t have to venture far to sight these friendly-looking animals. In fact, the Galapagos Fur Seal can be seen throughout the islands, most often lounging on the beach in large groups. These silky-furred animals spend their days relaxing on the shore before feeding in the sea at night. In fact, they can dive up to 100 metres, although prefer to stick to shallow waters where possible. Once critically endangered, today the population of these endemic animals is thriving.
A species of seabird, the blue-footed booby is one of the most unique Galapagos islands animals. Instantly recognisable by the bright blue feet, this rare colour plays an important role in mating rituals. In fact, these birds are known for their elaborate courting dances, where the males show off their vibrant feet to prospective mates. Apparently, the brighter the feet, the more likely they are to win over their mate! If you travel to the Galapagos Islands, you’ll also see the red-footed variety, which is much smaller in comparison.
Commonly seen along the shoreline of all of the Galapagos Islands, these colourful crabs were apparently named after a Caribbean dancer. Their unique behaviour consists of leaping between rocks and they have the ability to run in all four directions. Instantly recognisable by their bright red and blue shells, the Sally-Lightfoot Crab feed on almost all organic matter, making them an important part of the Galapagos ecosystem. Furthermore, they can be spotted throughout the year, usually feeding in large groups close to the sea.
The only penguin found north of the equator, Galapagos Penguins can be spotted on Fernandina Island and the west coast of Isabela Island. The small seabirds spend most of their time in the cold waters, which allows them to survive in the warm climate. Usually finding shelter in rocky lava caves, these adorable creatures tend to mate for life and feed on cold-water fish. In some parts of the Galapagos, you can even swim with these animals! Unfortunately, with a dwindling population of around 2,000, they are severely threatened.
Galapagos Land Iguana
If you travel to the Galapagos, you might be surprised to find that the land iguana you’re taking a photo of might actually be older than you! Living up to 50 years, they are famous for their brightly coloured scales. In fact, you can find yellow, pink and brown land iguanas in the Galapagos. Despite their fearsome appearance, these Galapagos Islands animals feed mainly on plants. Visible throughout the year, they are mostly found in the dry lowlands of Baltra, Isabela, North Seymour, Santa Cruz, Santiago, South Plaza and Fernandina.
Like a miniature iguana, lava lizards are the most abundant reptile in the Galapagos. In fact, you’re likely to spot these little animals wherever you go. Often found in large groups, lava lizards like to warm themselves in the sun atop lava fields. Their undersides are brightly coloured, ranging from red to green, yellow and grey. They are sighted all year round and are active in the daytime. Furthermore, they like to hang out with groups of marine iguanas in order to soak up their body warmth.
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