Feeling bio-diversity curious? Our 10-day Galapagos Gay Cruise brings you up close to some of the most extraordinary critters on earth: finned, feathered or otherwise. Here’s our guide to the Galapagos animals you’re most likely to see on tour.
Galapagos Animals: Sea
Our Galapagos Gay Cruise features two snorkelling stops daily. Needless to say, the marine life will be a highlight!
Sea lions are synonymous with the Galapagos Islands. Primarily because these playful pups have little fear of tourists and will swim right up to you. Even on land, they show little fear and will often plop beside you while catching some rays.
The green sea turtle is found throughout the Galapagos Islands. These friendly giants can grow almost as big as their land-bound brethren, the Galapagos tortoise. Because they feed in shallow waters they’re a very common sight among snorkelers.
One of the most extraordinary sights in the Galapagos is the endemic and mild-mannered marine iguana. Why? Because it’s the only aquatic iguana in the entire world! Look for it in shallow waters in the early morning. Otherwise you’ll see these prehistoric looking reptiles suntanning on rocky coasts.
A common sight throughout the Galapagos is the harmless reef shark – identifiable by the white tip on its dorsal fin. Although rare, other shark sightings include hammer heads, the Galapagos shark , and in much deeper waters, the majestic whale shark (pictured).
Nothing delights visitors quite like a pod of dolphins jumping alongside a moving boat. The most common sighting throughout the archipelago is the bottlenose dolphin (pictured). But you may also spot common dolphins, Risso’s dolphins and striped dolphins.
Although it’s unlikely you’ll spot any whales on our tour, a healthy population of Bryde’s (pictured) live in the channel between Isabela and Fernandina Islands.
Fish and other marine life
It would be impossible to list every marine animal you’ll spot snorkelling through the Galapagos islands. Some of the most common fish include the yellow-tailed surgeon fish, king angelfish, sergeant-major and parrot fish. Beyond fish, you’ll also spot various species of ray (pictured: golden cownose ray), octopi, crab and lobster.
Galapagos Animals: Sky
While the majority of our Galapagos Gay Cruise will have you floating face down in the sea, snorkelling through schools of jewel toned fish. We highly recommend taking a moment to gaze skyward where an array of seabirds are bound to delight.
With it’s teat-illating name, quagmire stare and iconic blue feet, the blue-footed booby (pictured) has become the Galapagos Island’s poster child. But few travellers know the island is actually home to other species of booby such as the red-footed booby and nazca booby.
Of all of the Galapagos animals, it was the finches that most inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution and famous book, ‘On the Origin of Species’. These flitty birds are found on all 12 islands and have 15-subspecies. Depending on the island, the local species’ beak has evolved specifically to best harvest a local food source such as seeds, fruit and insects.
Before humans introduced cats and dogs, the Galapagos hawk was the top land predator. With fierce talons and a concerning beak, this majestic bird can easily overpower a medium-sized iguana!
Unlike many Galapagos animals, the greater flamingo is not endemic to the archipelago. However, it is still a welcomed sight! Look for it grazing in shallow lagoons.
When puffed out, the frigate’s large, crimson chest is a striking sight juxtaposed to its black feathers. And because it is quite common throughout the islands, you’re almost guaranteed to spot a few.
Unfortunately, travelers joining our Galapagos Gay Cruise won’t see the local penguins. These flightless wonders are only found on the west coast of Isabela Island and Fernandina Island. However, as the only species of penguin found north of the equator, we couldn’t NOT mention them.
Although extremely unlikely, there’s a tiny chance you may spot the island’s handsome waved albatross. This large, elegant flier is one of the world’s rarest birds and can soar extraordinary lengths without rest.
Galapagos Animals: Land
Although the majority of our Galapagos Gay Cruise relishes in the wonders below sea level, it does feature a few easy hikes. During said hikes you’ll observe a number of land animals endemic to the archipelago.
Another famous resident of the islands is the giant tortoise. These docile beasts have called the Galapagos home for thousands of years. And while they once roamed free of predators, introduced species of rats, cats, dogs and pigs all pose serious threats to young tortoise. Which is why the vast majority of tortoises are raised in captivity before being released into the wild. The most famous giant tortoise is the recently deceased Lonely George. Read our ode to this queer icon here.
The endemic land iguana is a deep golden yellow, and can be found meandering through low shrubbery. They’re a fairly common sight on most islands. And despite their intimidating appearance, they tend to have a laissez-faire attitude towards tourists.
You won’t be able to walk more than a few feet on any island without spotting a lava lizard scurry off. These insect-eating reptiles are literally everywhere. There are 28 species in total, each uniquely evolved to adapt to the specific island they call home.
Since most of us in the Out Adventures office are big snake fans, we’re a bit sad to report there are only four variety in The Galapagos. That said, these small, non-venomous constrictors are PRETTY awesome. Please see video evidence below.
Discover one of the world’s most remote archipelagos aboard our Galapagos Gay Cruise.
Photo credits from top down: unsplash.com, Brian Yamanaka, unsplash.com X 2, Wikipedia Commons X 3, unsplash.com, Shutterstock, Wikipedia Commons, Brian Yamanaka, unsplash.com X 2, Wikipedia Commons, unsplash.com, X 2, Brian Yamanaka, Wikipedia Commons.
Video credit: BBC Planet Earth II.
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