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Galapagos Petrel

Galapagos Petrel

"The Web-Footed One"

What you need to know about the Galapagos Petrel

Galápagos Petrels are seabirds native to the Galápagos Islands. Despite making the Galápagos their home all year round they have been spotted as far away as northern South America and the Central American coastline in their hunt for their favourite foods - squid, crustaceans and small fish. Like many seabirds they spend most of their time living out at sea when the mating season starts in April they can be seen in the damp highland areas of several of the Galápagos Islands, including but during the breeding season, which starts in late April, they can be found in the humid highlands of several of the islands, including Santa Cruz, Floreana, Santiago, San Cristobal and Isabela.

Galápagos Petrels are medium-sized birds with long wings, grey-black coloring on their belly and with white forehead markings. Their legs are pink with black webs. Their most distinctive feature is their short, hook-shaped bill with nostrils that meet at the top which is a feature shared by all petrel species.

Galápagos Petrels return to the same nesting site every year and they tend to mate for life. Unlike other petrels around the world which dig burrows, the Galápagos Petrels have adapted to the rocky, volcanic archipelago and they will often use natural gaps in the rocks as nests.

You can see Galápagos Petrels foraging for food all year round in the Galápagos, and your Galapatours naturalist guides will point them out to you and explain more about their life cycle and habits. If you visit the islands between April and October then you may encounter them nesting inland if you have an excursion into one of the highlands where they breed. Speak to one of our Galápagos experts who can advise you on the best itineraries to choose to maximise your chances of seeing Galápagos Petrels

Galapagos Petrel: Interesting facts

The Galápagos Petrel is known to locals as patapegada, or "web-footed one."

The population of Galápagos Petrels has declined by over 80% in the last 60 years

Galápagos petrels reuse the same nest for year after year

Galápagos Petrels prey mainly on squirrel fish, flying fish, skipjack tuna and goatfish

Galapagos Petrel: Pictures from our travelers

Galapagos Petrel
Galapagos Petrel
Galapagos Petrel

Spots where the Galapagos Petrel 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.

A walk on North Seymour
North Seymour

The island is named after an English nobleman, Lord Hugh Seymour and has an area of 1.9 square kilometers and a maximum altitude of 28 meters. This island is home to a large population of blue-footed boobies and swallow-tailed gulls and hosts one of the largest populations of frigatebirds. North Seymour has a visitor trail approximately 1.2 mi in length crossing the inland of the island and exploring the rocky coast.

North Seymour was formed at the same time as neighboring Baltra Island, and by the same process - an uplifting of undersea lava. This small, flat island has hiking trails throughout, allowing you to explore the arid landscape and to meet the seabirds that call North Seymour home.

North Seymour was the site of one of the earliest conservation experiments in the Galápagos. In 1934 a group of Galápagos Land Iguanas were moved there by Captain Hanckock. They have since thrivedthrived, and there are now well over 2,500 of them on the island and more than 3,000 on the neighbouring Baltra island.

The biggest attraction of North Seymour is its large colony of Blue-Footed Boobies and its Frigatebirds. These popular Galápagos species are often found together because the Frigatebirds rely on the Boobies’ fishing prowess. The Frigatebirds actively steal the Boobies catch to feed themselves!

There is also a population of Marine Iguanas and Galápagos Sea Lions are frequently spotted. The snorkeling here is also very good, with plenty of marine life to see including rays and reef sharks.

Our trips to spot the Galapagos Petrel

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