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Wildlife_Galapagos

wildlife

The Galapagos Islands are home to a wide and beautiful variety of endemic species described as a "living museum and showcase of evolution". Over the millennia, each island has formed a unique ecosystem resulting in specially adapted animals from pelicans to iguanas, sea lions to giant tortoises and much more. At every turn, there is incredible wildlife action to be seen, and because there are no natural predators on the islands, you can get up close and personal to interact and take brilliant photos of all types of creatures on land and underwater. The Galapagos is one of the last true wildernesses on earth and the striking landscapes have not lost their unique beauty since the days of Charles Darwin.

Here are some of the wildlife sightings you may encounter on the Eclipse and Athala II.


Sea lion wildlife

galapagos sea lion

The Galapagos Sea Lion lives on the rocky coasts of the islands in the west of the Archipelago. These sea lions don't migrate and they stay near the islands all their lives, which is about 20 years. The Galapagos Sea Lion feeds mainly on fish and mollusks near the coast and the water surface, but they have been spotted in depths of up to 170 meters. They reproduce in the oriental Pacific off the Galapagos Islands and they are endemic to the islands.


BLUE FOOT BOOBIES

blue-footed boobie

Blue Footed Boobies are tropical seabirds and are amongst the most famous birds in the Galapagos Islands. They are the most commonly seen booby bird in the Archipelago as thet nest near the coast and feed close to shore. The name booby comes from the Spanish term 'bobo', which means fool. The Blue Footed Boobie is graceful in the air but rather clumsy and cumbersome on land. Compared to other seabirds it is very tame allowing for some great photo opportunities.


humpback whale wildlife

humpback whale

Humpback whales (Megapetra Novaegliae) can be seen in the Galapagos marine reserve between July and September, prodominantly near the islands of Espanola, Sante Fe, Santa Cruz and the north western part of San Cristobal. By October they migrate to colder waters. The majority of the whales that can be seen in the Galapagos are female, and it is thought that the aquatic environment of the Galapagos acts as a nursery for new born calves and also a great source for nutrients during the 12 month gestation period. Breeding happens near the continent coastal waters, but because males can get little aggressive, females separate and swim to the Galapagos waters to feed and protect their young ones. This could be one reason why the Galapagos Archipelago is considered a whale sanctuary, and a place you can find other mammals including sperm whales, orcas and dolphins.


land iguana

land iguana

The Land Iguanas are another of the endemic species that can be found on Fernandina, Isabela, Santa Cruz and the North Seymour Islands. Its beautiful colours can vary from a golden yellow to deep orange and dark red. In the last census of this species, it concluded that there are around 5,000 to 10,000 land iguanas left in the Galapagos Islands and for this reason, they are currently in danger of extinction.


Galapagos Cormorant

galapagos cormorant

Also known as the non-flying cormorant, the Galapagos Cormorant is an endemic species and is the only cormorant in the world that has lost its ability to fly, much to the interest of a young Charles Darwin. This was because they had no natural predators and so no need to fly. However, with the arrival of man and other foreign animals there are 1,500 estimated to be left. This unique cormorant can be found only on Fernandina and Isabela Island, both stops on an Eclipse cruise.


Galapagos Seaturtle

galapagos sea turtle

The Galapagos Sea Turtle is frequently found in large numbers in the Galapagos Islands. This kind of sea turtle belongs to a group of endemic species from the islands. The Galapagos Archipelago provides the sea turtle with the best places to reproduce and feed during the year. This is why the Galapagos has one of the largest colonies of sea turtles in the Pacific Ocean.


Galapagos Tortoise

galapagos tortoise

The giant tortoise is the biggest living tortoise, native to seven islands of the Galapagos Archipelago. When fully grown, it can weigh over 300 kilograms (661pounds) and measure 1.2 meters (4 feet) long. It can live to between 100 - 150 years old. The population has decreased over recent years due to hunting and the introduction of predators and herbivores by humans since the 17th century. Nowadays, there are ten subspecies from the original twelve that still exist on the islands.


pink flamingo

pink flamingo

The Pink Flamingo is a common species in the Galapagos Islands. They are characterised by their long legs, peculiar walk and distinctive colour. The estimated population of these birds is around 600, and you will be able to find them on Santiago, Isabela, Floreana and Rabida Islands.


Frigate Bird

frigate bird

The Great and Magnificent Frigate Birds are endemic subspecies to the Galapagos. You can see the two species nesting on the Islands of North Seymour, Floreana, Isabela, Genovesa and also on the fresh water lake called El Junco, on San Cristobal Island. The Great Frigate is harder to spot because they tend to fly away much farther out at sea, while the Magnificent tends to fly above the Islands and are thus easier to see.


Marine Iguana

marine iguana

The Marine Iguana is found only on the Galapagos Islands and has the ability to live and feed in the sea, which makes it a marine reptile. It has now spread to all islands in the Archipelago and lives predominantly on the rocky shoreline. It can also be found in marshes and mangrove beaches. Estimates from the Charles Darwin Research Station put their numbers in the hundered of thousands.


Waved Albatross

waved albatross

Albatrosses nest only on Espanola (Hood) Island, and stay there from late March through early January. The 15,000 to 17,000 pairs of albatrosses represent almost the entire population of this species on the planet. They perform one of the most spectacular courtship rituals of the animal world and is a beautiful sight to behold.