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15 Galápagos Islands Animals to Look for on Your Next Trip

Updated: Feb 20


four galapagos tortoise
Giant Galapagos Tortoise


Welcome to the enchanting realm of the Galápagos Islands, where every step unveils a world filled with extraordinary biodiversity and unique Galápagos Islands animals. With over 200 known species, the Galápagos Islands are home to a wide variety of birds, land & marine animals. From the majestic Galápagos Giant Tortoise to the vibrant marine life and captivating birds, these animals span the land, sea, and air. Whether you're a nature enthusiast, wildlife photographer, or simply curious, observing these remarkable species in their natural habitat requires a keen eye and an understanding of their behaviors. Guided tours and excursions led by knowledgeable naturalists enhance the likelihood of meaningful wildlife encounters and increase your chances of seeing Galápagos Islands animals. If you’re interested in a yacht cruise that will increase the likelihood of seeing one of these animals, please reach out so we can start building your itinerary! Here are 15 species you just might encounter on your next trip - 


Land Animals:


Galápagos Giant Tortoise

Season: Year-round

Location: Santa Cruz Island, Isabela Island

Tips: Visit the Charles Darwin Research Station for a chance to see these magnificent creatures up close. They are active throughout the year, but mating season (June to December) offers unique behaviors.


Galápagos Marine Iguana

Season: Year-round

Location: Fernandina and Isabela Islands

Tips: These unique iguanas are the only lizards that are able to survive at sea!  Look for marine iguanas sunbathing on rocks along the coast.


Galápagos Hawk

Season: Year-round

Location: Fernandina & Isabela Islands

Tips: These skilled hunters can be seen during hikes on most of the major islands. The dry season is ideal for clearer skies and better visibility.


Lava Lizard

Season: Year-round

Location: Various islands

Tips: Look for these small reptiles on rocks and trees. They are more active during the warm season but can be found year-round and are most active during the day.



Birds:


Waved Albatross

Season: April to December

Location: Española Island

Tips: Witness their unique courtship dance and nesting activities during the breeding season. Guided walks along the island's cliffs offer prime viewing.


Flightless Cormorant

Season: Year-round

Location: Fernandina Island

Tips: These protected birds can be found only on the Galápagos Islands! Snorkel near Fernandina's shores to see these cormorants in action. 


Galápagos Penguin

Season: Year-round

Location: Bartolomé and Isabela Islands

Tips: Snorkel around these islands for delightful encounters. Penguins are more active during their nesting season, which takes place in the cool and dry season (May to December).


Galápagos Flamingo

Season: Year-round

Location: Large colonies can be found on Floreana Island

Tips: Visit lagoons on Floreana to spot these vibrant and elegant birds. The dry season (June to December) is ideal for clearer water and better visibility.


Galápagos Owl

Season: Year-round

Location: Floreana and Santa Cruz Islands

Tips: Look for these elusive owls during guided night walks. They are nocturnal, so evening excursions provide better chances of sightings.



Marine Animals:


Galápagos Sea Lion

Season: Year-round

Location: Espanola and Floreana Islands

Tips: These small, endangered marine animals don’t typically migrate, so they can be found year-round. Snorkel or kayak in the vicinity of these islands for playful sea lion sightings. 


Galápagos Fur Seal

Season: Year-round

Location: Fernandina and Isabela Islands

Tips: These endangered seals can be found along rocky shores. Snorkeling provides opportunities for observing them underwater. Increase your chances of seeing pups by visiting in October!


Galápagos Green Turtle

Season: Year-round

Location: Various islands, especially Española and Floreana

Tips: Snorkel near coastal areas and feeding grounds to see green turtles. Warmer seasons may increase the chances of sightings. Pregnant Green Turtles can sometimes be found along the shore in December - March as they lay their eggs.


Hammerhead Shark

Season: Year-round

Location: Wolf and Darwin Islands

Tips: Take part in guided scuba diving excursions to Wolf and Darwin Islands for the best chances of encountering hammerhead sharks, especially during the warm season.


Galápagos Shark

Season: Year-round

Location: Various islands, often seen during boat trips and snorkeling excursions

Tips: Keep an eye out during boat rides and snorkeling activities. Sharks are more active during feeding times, typically early morning or late afternoon.


Galápagos Batfish

Season: Year-round

Location: Various islands, often near rocky or coral areas

Tips: Snorkeling and diving activities around rocky and coral-rich areas increase the chances of encountering Galápagos batfish. They are more active during daylight hours.

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