Wildlife Of The Galápagos Islands

The Galápagos are a magnet to travelers and nature lovers from all around the world. They’re drawn by stories of an unspoiled place where exotic animals are everywhere and people roam freely among them. At least that seems to be the image most people have. The truth may be a little different though.

The mystique of these islands dates back to 1835 when Charles Darwin claimed to have identified over 100 new species of birds on the islands. As part of the HMS Beagle expedition. Darwin stayed in Galápagos for two months collecting specimens that he later used to develop his theory The Origin Of Species.

The major feature of the Galápagos are the large number and range of birds found here. While there are some 56 species of birds that live or breed in the islands, only 27 are unique to the Galápagos. Most of these are small birds like Darwin’s finches and they’re mostly isolated to individual islands.

Of the Galápagos’ major species that are of interest to visitors there are only five and of those only two are unique here, the Galapagos tortoise and the marine iguana. The other three are the sea lions, frigate birds and booby birds

The Galápagos tortoise is the most iconic animal in the Galapagos chain inhabiting seven of the islands. It has an average lifespan of more than 150 years and not surprisingly is part of the collection of almost every one of the worlds zoos.

The Galápagos’ marine iguana is the only iguana adapted to life in the sea. Here they are very common and can be found sunning themselves on rocks, sidewalks and piers. Among the other reptiles are land iguanas, lava lizards, geckos and a few harmless snakes.

A favorite bird in the Galápagos is the blue footed booby. They are only one of five species of boobies and are most remarkable because they have blue feet! While these birds live along various portions of the western coast of Central and South America, it is the Galápagos Islands where people come to get a glimpse of them. There are a number of breeding locations but most of these are away from the larger islands and require a boat trip to visit.

In order to really experience the wide range of wildlife in the Galápagos visitors would need to visit five to seven islands. Unfortunately for most visitors a trip to the Galápagos usually involves flying into the island of San Cristabol and spending two or three nights there. While this does provide an opportunity for seeing local birds and animals to get to visit breeding seabird colonies requires taking boat tours or all day trips.

Additional animals in the Galápagos include a penguin that spends time in the Galápagos, but they live on remote coasts and are difficult to visit. Other birds include Darwin’s finches, frigate birds, albatross, gulls, boobies, pelicans and a Galápagos hawks. There is also a flightless cormorant and the Galapagos crake, a nearly flightless bird.

Of the mammal species, mostly are sea mammals such as whales, dolphins and the ever present sea lions. There are also a few species of Galapagos mice, including the Santiago Galapagos mouse and the Fernandina Galapagos mouse.

Generally not exactly the experience most people expect. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t some interesting things to do in the Galapagos. Visit the Galápagos tortoise breeding facility and spend time at a few museums. There are some nice beaches and swimming with sea lions is almost unavoidable. There’re plenty of great locations to snorkel and dive trips are plentiful. Five hour to all day excursions to a number of uninhabited islands can also be easily arranged.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: