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Galapagos Sting Rays

Galapagos Sting Rays

The beautiful, elegant and majestic rays of the Galápagos

What you need to know about the Galapagos Sting Rays

There are several species of rays that are commonly seen in the waters around the Galápagos islands. You can often see rays swimming in the clear water when you are kayaking, snorkeling or traveling by panga on an excursion. If you are on a diving cruise then you will be able to get really close to these elegant creatures. In the Galápagos, Rays can often be seen from the cliffs at South Plaza Island or even from the beach shore on Rabida Island or in a silent lagoon surrounded by a mangrove forest. There are several varieties that are resident in the archipelago:

Golden Rays are so-named because of their golden-coloured tops, but they can also be recognized by their blunt head and long, whip-like tails. They can vary in size but most are between 3 and 4 feet across from wingtip to wingtip. Golden Rays are often seen in the Galápagos diving sites swimming alone, but they can also be found swim in large schools in quiet, shallow lagoons. The best place to see schools of golden rays is at Black Turtle Cove on Santa Cruz island.

Spotted Eagle Rays have pointed heads and long tails with a spiny tip. Their most notable attribute is the white spots that cover their otherwise black top. In the Galápagos, Spotted Eagle Rays are also commonly sighted in large schools in smaller lagoons like Black Turtle Cove. You can also sometimes see them if your are snorkeling off the coast of Floreana Island.

Stingrays are common in the shallow beach areas and sandy-bottomed depths throughout the Galápagos. These grey rays have a long, narrow tail which ends in a nasty stinger that gives the fish its name. They vary in size and shape quite a lot, and some can grow to have a 5ft wingspan. Stingrays can often be spotted lurking on the seabed of the shallower snorkeling sites, and sometimes amongst the surf of Post Office Bay on Floreana Island.

Galapagos Sting Rays: Interesting facts

Rays are most closely related to sharks.

Rays bodies contain no bones. Their skeleton is made up entirely of cartilage

A stingray's venom is so poisonous that even a dead stingray's tail can kill a human.

Feed on bottom dwelers like equinoderms (like sea cucumbers) and crustaceans,

Galapagos Sting Rays: Pictures from our travelers

Galapagos Sting Rays
Galapagos Sting Rays
Galapagos Sting Rays

Spots where the Galapagos Sting Rays 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 Sting Rays

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