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The wildlife on the Galapagos Islands, both on land and in the water, is truly unique and unlike anything else on the planet! Visiting the archipelago, you will see highly-adapted species, some endemic to individual Islands. Something truly incredible about the Galapagos Islands is that the wildlife there has evolved with comparatively little human contact or major predators for hundreds of years. Thus a fear of humans have never developed, meaning you can observe these beautiful creatures from surprisingly close range in their natural habitat. They are really not afraid of us and here is our favorites!  

1. The Giant Tortoise

The Giant Tortoises  are truly one of the most unforgettable creatures you meet in the Galapagos. They are the largest living species of tortoises and can only be found two places in the world today. These majestic animals can weigh up to 900 pounds and live for more than 150 years! Spanish explorers, who discovered the islands in the 16th century, named them after the Spanish galápago, meaning "tortoise".

2. Blue Footed Booby

Easily recognizable by the distinctive bright blue feet from which it is named, the blue footed booby is the most famous bird in the Galapagos. It is also famous for its incredible mating dance where the males display their feet in an elaborate ritual by lifting them up and down while strutting before the female. And they do it right in front of you, not shy at all!

4. Sea lion

Galapagos sea lions are almost everywhere to be seen in the archipelago, and are usually the first animals you will encounter. They are very playful and curious by nature and this makes them one of the favorites of all visitors. Usually spotted sun-bathing on the white sandy beaches or rocky shores or gliding gracefully through the water. They are totally fearless of humans and they will swim up close when you snorkel, you can even lay down next to them on the beach! 

5. Green Sea Turtle

The Green sea turtles are the only turtles native to the Galapagos Islands and generally spend their entire lives at sea, other than when they come ashore to lay their eggs between January and June. Because of their aerodynamic bodies and their streamlined front and rear limbs, they can efficiently cruise through the waters at speeds up to 35 mph. To meet one while snorkeling is a very special experience! 


6. Magnificent Frigatebird

The Magnificent frigatebirds are most known for and recognizable by the bright red pouch that the male frigate bird inflates to show off when they are mating. They are one of the larger birds on the Islands, and are commonly seen in large groups. 

7. Darwin Finch

The Darwin Finch, also known as the Galàpagos finch, is a small but nevertheless very famous bird. Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection was formed after he discovered several species of finches that varied from island to island, specifically by the remarkable diversity in beak form and function. There are around 13 different species today, all evolved from a single species.

8. Flightless Cormorant

This is probably one of the more interesting birds on the islands, and contributed to Darwin’s formulation of his Theory of Evolution. As its name suggests, this bird has evolved such short wings due to its land-borne lifestyle that it is no longer capable of flying. In fact, it is the only species of cormorants in the world that is not able to fly and it is endemic to the Galàpagos Islands. 

9. Waved Albatross

The Waved albatross is the largest bird in the archipelago with a wingspan anywhere between 1-2 ½ meters. Espanola Island is the sole breeding ground for the entire world population, which numbers about 12,000 couples. It is a truly amazing bird, that can spend years at sea without having to return to land. 

10. Galapagos Penguin

The Galapagos Penguin is one of the smallest penguins in the world and the only one that lives at, or just above the equator. The penguin population in the Galapagos is concentrated in the colder nutrient-rich waters in the western islands. You will find over 90% of the population on Fernandina and Isabela.


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