Galapagos Islands Wildlife
Diego the Professor is one of the most famous Galapagos celebrities. This 140 years old Giant Tortoise helped the survival of his species by fathering over 800 offspring! Just 50 years ago, Super Diego as he is also known, was one of the few surviving members of his race. Thanks to the Charles Darwin Foundation’s breeding programme on the main Galapagos Island, Santa Cruz, Diego was able to help his race survive extinction.
The Galapagos Islands have always been a top bucket list item for us. This is one of the few places in the world where you can get very close to the wildlife. Galapagos Islands Wildlife has few predators, which has allowed various species to flourish over the years. As such they have little fear, especially towards humans.
The Galapagos Islands
The Galapagos Islands are an archipelago of volcanic islands in the Pacific Ocean, around 1,000km (600 miles) from Ecuador’s coast. The name translates to The Tortoise Islands, given to them after being discovered by a Spanish bishop in 1535, who was impressed by Diego’s ancestors.
Galapagos Islands Wildlife also impressed another famous visitor in 1835 and inspired the theory of evolution. Charles Darwin noted that the unique creatures were similar from island to island but perfectly adapted to their environments, which led him to ponder their origin.
Galapagos Islands Wildlife has continued to inspire and captivate visitors, and here are a few of characters we fell in love with.
The sea lions completely stole the show. Their curious and playful nature will completely charm the pants off of you. They love to pose, are totally unafraid, noisy and highly entertaining.
The best way to interact with them is in the water when snorkelling. They swim right up to you, completely unafraid, craving attention. They are like water puppies that just want to play. They move so elegantly in the water, gliding effortlessly, which contrasts to their clumsy movements on land as they drag their body along the sand where they lay to bask in the sun.
A colony of sea lions will have one alpha male protecting them and chasing off any competition. You don’t want to get too close to these as they’re very territorial and will chase you away.
Marine iguanas are everywhere in the Galapagos Islands. These lizard-like animals are quite funny. After a long swim, they spend hours sitting completely still on the sand taking in the sun’s rays. Then after around 30 seconds, they spit out at you.
Of course, they’re not trying to insult you; their bodies are simply filtering out the salt they’ve ingested while swimming in the sea, and they get rid of it by sneezing it out.
Our favourite, blue-footed boobies, famous for their mating dance
The Galapagos Islands are a paradise for bird watchers, with almost 200 different species. Some of the islands attract a particularly high number of birds like Genovesa in the far North of the Galapagos where you can find thousands of mockingbirds, swallow-tailed gulls, storm petrels, finches, frigates, owls…and boobies!
There are many types of booby birds like red-footed boobies, nazka boobies and our favourite, blue-footed boobies, famous for their mating dance. The male tries to woo the female by literally dancing in front of her, showing off his blue feet. The female will then select the male who she finds the most attractive, in other words, the one with the bluest feet.
Although Diego steals the tortoise show, there are two large Tortoise Reserves on the highlands of Santa Cruz Island where his friends and family roam free.
The giant tortoises of the Galapagos Islands move around slowly, grazing on any piece of shrub they happen to stumble upon. The highlight of their day is congregating in the large mud bath at the heart of the reserve, which is their playground. Watching 20 giant tortoises move around so happily in the mud is almost mesmerising, like nothing you’ve ever seen before.
Our favourite place for snorkelling was off the coast of the Española Islands where we swam with families of manta rays, turtles and numerous tropical fish
Underwater Galapagos Islands Wildlife
Some of the best experiences with Galapagos Islands Wildlife will be when snorkelling. As well as the sea lions, there are so many different creatures in these rich volcanic waters.
Our favourite place for snorkelling was off the coast of the Española Islands where we swam with families of manta rays, turtles and numerous tropical fish. There were even several reef sharks, metres distance from us. Snorkelling in the Galapagos Islands did, however, come with a price: the water is quite cold, so even in a full wetsuit, we started shivering after 30 minutes.
Pink flamingos come to the mangrove swamps of Isabela, Rábida and Santa Cruz Islands to feed and socialise. They’re famous in the bird world for having the longest neck and legs in comparison to their body size.
They feed mainly on crustaceans, which contain carotenoid pigments. These pigments are what give the Galapagos flamingos their distinct pink colouring.
The funniest thing about flamingos is that they sleep standing up, balancing on one leg. They do this because it helps them to save energy, with the heart only needing to focus on pumping blood through one leg, while the other rests tucked into the body.
It ranks as one of the best things we’ve ever experienced during our travels
Our Galapagos Islands Wildlife cruise was simply incredible from start to finish. It ranks as one of the best things we’ve ever experienced during our travels. Those moments playing with sea lions in the water, making a special connection with such unique wildlife are memories we’ll never forget.
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Bluefooted booby | Photo: Nomadic Boys
Marine iguana | Photo: Nomadic Boys
Sea turtle | Photo: Nomadic Boys
Marine iguana | Photo: Nomadic Boys
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