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Galapagos Sea Lion

Galapagos Sea Lion

Surfing and Sunbathing in the Galápagos

What you need to know about the Galapagos Sea Lion

The Galápagos Sea Lion is a common sight all around the islands, and you’ll never be far from a group of them contentedly basking in the warm sun. They are officially a subspecies of the California Sea Lion, but some experts claim that they are actually a separate species. Needless to say, we’re happy to be on the side that claims them as our own, and visitors on a Galapatours cruise will soon fall for their charms!

The Galápagos Sea Lions thrive in the rich waters of the archipelago, and there are an estimated 50,000 individuals who call Galápagos home. They live in large colonies, and will often take over whole stretches of sandy beach where they can bask, bark, argue, snooze and generally just feel at home!  The males are impressively large, with a very thick neck when fully mature. The females are much smaller and a lot more elegant and graceful, both in and out of the water.

The mating season runs from May to December, and during this time the males become very territorial, and fights are common. The colonies around the Galápagos give birth to their pups at slightly different times, staggering the new arrivals around the archipelago in a way which may aid survival by reducing over-fishing by the adults in order to feed the hungry pups.

Galápagos Sea Lions are very inquisitive and their playful curiosity means that if you go snorkeling on a Galapatours adventure you’re very likely to be kept company by these delightful creatures in the water. Our expert guides will also be able to show you sites in the islands where the young sea lions enjoy body surfing in the breakers!

Galapagos Sea Lion: Interesting facts

Galápagos Sea Lions can grow very large - males are 900lb when mature!

Galápagos Sea Lions differ from other sea lion species by their rather pointy nose

Galápagos Sea Lions are highly sociable and they love to play and chase in the warm sun

Although there is a healthy population on the archipelago, Galápagos Sea Lion population can be decimated by extreme El Nino events

Galapagos Sea Lion: Pictures from our travelers

Galapagos Sea Lion
Galapagos Sea Lion
Galapagos Sea Lion

Spots where the Galapagos Sea Lion 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 Sea Lion

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