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Galapagos Green Turtle

Galapagos Green Turtle

Elegant and gentle undersea residents

What you need to know about the Galapagos Green Turtle

The Galápagos Green Turtle is the only species to nest on the archipelago, and is rarely found anywhere else in the world. Here in the Galápagos they are abundant, and can often be seen on snorkeling and diving excursions anywhere near the coasts all over the islands.

Like all turtles, their life starts as a tiny hatchling from up to 200 eggs laid by a female. All alone they will have to battle cormorants, albatrosses, gulls, frigatebirds, crabs, hawks and countless other predators who wait for the young turtles to emerge. Most never reach the sea. For the few who do get there, it’s still not safe as sharks and frigatebirds prey on them. The tiny percentage that escape to the open ocean still face a battle to survive and grow until they reach adulthood more than 30 years later.

In the water these animals are a beautiful and elegant site, usually seen swimming gently through the clear waters. However the Galápagos Green Turtle is a particularly strong swimmer, and they can travel for long distances at speeds of 30mph or more. Adults have a mainly vegetarian diet, but juveniles are a little more opportunistic and will try and eat anything! The biggest specimens can grow to weigh over 280lb (130kg).

Galápagos Green Turtles are officially listed as “endangered”. Their main threat is, unfortunately, humankind. They have been actively hunted for their shells and meat, as well as suffering accidental drowning when getting caught in fishing nets. The introduction of invasive species has also added to the amount of predation on the hatchlings, putting further pressures on numbers. Happily, he trade of Galápagos Green Turtle parts has been outlawed on the market, resulting in a dramatic drop in deliberate hunting.

The Green Turtle is not the only species. You can also see the critically endangered Hawksbill Turtle in the Galápagos. This is a highly at-risk species, and the protected National Park of the Galápagos is used as a hunting ground for a small but important enclave. Elsewhere in the world Hawksbill numbers are in steep decline, and the waters around Galápagos and the coast of Ecuador are one of the few places where this species has a stable population.

Encountering one of these magnificent creatures in the ocean on a Galapatours cruise will create the memory of a lifetime. Speak to one of our Galápagos experts who can help you select an itinerary with plenty of snorkeling opportunities to maximise your chances of swimming next to a Galápagos Green Turtle.

Galapagos Green Turtle: Interesting facts

This is the only species of turtle to nest on the Galápagos

They are known as "Green" turtles because the algae in their diet gives their body fat a green tint

The largest ever recorded Green Sea Turtle weighed 870lb!

To remove salt from their bodies, Green Sea Turtles have a gland behind each eye. When secreting it looks like they are crying!

Galapagos Green Turtle: Pictures from our travelers

Galapagos Green Turtle
Galapagos Green Turtle
Galapagos Green Turtle

Spots where the Galapagos Green Turtle can be observed

A walk on Bartholomew
A walk on Bartholomew

Bartholomew (known as Bartolomé locally) is the most popular excursion for Galápagos visitors, and its iconic scenery is the most photographed in the whole archipelago.

To start your walk on this island you will land in the small bay opposite the famous Pinnacle Rock. You then start the climb to the 375ft peak of Bartholomew. You’ll travel along a half mile trail that includes a series of wooden steps that have been built by the National Park Service to protect the ground here from erosion caused by tourists hiking to the summit.

When you arrive at the top of island the spectacular views will have made your efforts worthwhile. Your Galapatours expert guide will point out all the landmarks you will see from here - Pinnacle Rock itself, jutting skywards. The huge black lava flows of Sullivan Bay. The islands of Daphne Major and Daphne Minor.

On the way back down, you will be able to recognise the different volcanic formations evident on the island, such as tuff cones and volcanic spatter. You'll also see some remarkable examples of the Galápagos' ability to highlight the adaptation of species. For example the  bushes that all look dead are actually very much alive, with leaves covered with special grey hairs that help to reflect the harsh sun and reduce moisture loss for the plants.

Back at the beach there is excellent snorkeling, thanks to the underwater caves and rocks in the area. You will see various sharks, rays and tropical fish. You may also see Galápagos Penguins swimming with you!

Chinese Hat
Chinese Hat

Chinese Hat ("Sombrero Chino" to locals) is an islet set just a short distance off the southeastern coast of Santiago. The small channel between Chinese Hat and mainland Santiago is fairly deep yet sheltered, and the water here is a glistening turquoise.

The islet gets its name because if you approach from the north, you will see that this small volcanic cone does indeed look like the traditional bamboo or rice hat. Viewed from above on a satellite image, however, you will see that this islet is actually more of an oval shape.

There is a short hiking trail on Chinese Hat that runs along the western coast of the islet. This is a harsh landscape of volcanic rubble and lava formations, a very atmospheric reminder of the fiery origins of the Galápagos.

Along the cost of both Chinese Hat and the opposite Santiago shore you are likely to see Galápagos Sea Lions and Galápagos Penguins, either basking in the sun or seeking shade to avoid the hottest parts of the day. Overhead, you might catch a glimpse of the magnificent Galápagos Hawk.

The stand-out reason for a visit to Chinese Hat however is to snorkel in that turquoise channel. Here you can see various species of sharks, rays, and a variety of tropical fish. Not all Galápagos boats can visit, and permits are only given to a select few boats and guides. Here at Galapatours we offer itineraries on all of these specially selected boats, so if a visit to Chinese Hat is important to you, speak to one of our Galápagos experts today to help choose the perfect itinerary.

Our trips to spot the Galapagos Green Turtle

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