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Galapagos Shearwater

Galapagos Shearwater

One of the Galápagos "newest species"!

What you need to know about the Galapagos Shearwater

This small black-and-white bird lives and breeds on the Galápagos Islands, but it has also been seen as far away as Western Mexico and the Central American coastline. Until recently, the Galápagos Shearwater was thought to be a subspecies of another Shearwater but has recently been recognized as a true full species on its own.

You can see Galápagos Shearwaters close to the shores of the islands on which they have breeding colonies - chiefly Santa Cruz, Española, and the remote and uninhabited Wolf Island. They are often foraging for food with other birds such as boobies and terns. The Galápagos Shearwaters fly very low to the water surface and with great speed, beating their wings very fast and then stopping to glide for a distance. This repeating pattern of wing beats and glides is the easiest way to identify them in flight.

The Galápagos Shearwater is not currently listed as under threat, but as the naturalist guide of your Galápagos cruise will explain, their overall numbers have been decreasing over recent years. The main threat to these birds on the Galápagos is from non-native species like cats and rats that can eat young and adults alike in their nest burrows. They are also at risk from animals like goats and other grazers that quickly destroy the natural cover the birds prefer to nest within. 

The Galápagos National Park has been attempting to control the introduced species on the islands where the Galápagos Shearwaters breed, and fortunately, this has seen the population start to stabilize here. You will learn much more about the conservation efforts in the Galápagos on any of our tour itineraries.

Galapagos Shearwater: Interesting facts

Galápagos Shearwaters usually stay close to the archipelago, but some have been sited as far away as Mexico

The Galápagos Shearwater's main diet consists of squid and fish

Both male and females have exactly the same marking and coloration

Galápagos Shearwaters are often seen at sea feeding alongside Boobies and other shearwaters

Galapagos Shearwater: Pictures from our travelers

Galapagos Shearwater
Galapagos Shearwater

Spots where the Galapagos Shearwater can be observed

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 Shearwater

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