WILDLIFE ON THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS

The most important species to spot

American Oystercatcher

The American Oystercatcher is a favorite resident of the Galapagos. It can be identified from its characteristic long red beak, black and white body, and stout-looking light pink legs. The female Oystercatcher tends to be slightly larger than the male,... more about American Oystercatcher

Brown Pelican

One bird which you will see many times on your Galapagos cruise is the majestic Brown Pelican, the smallest of all pelican species. This bird is widespread around all the Galapagos islands and can... more about Brown Pelican

Darwin's Finches

Known to school children all over the world studying evolution, the small changes amongst the species of Galapagos Finches famously helped Darwin to begin to formulate his theory of natural selection. Often referred to as Darwin’s Finches, there... more about Darwin's Finches

Galapagos Barn Owl

The second species of owl in Galapagos is the Barn Owl. This renowned bird is larger than the Short-Eared Owl and is clearly recognised by its distinctive heart-shaped facial disc. This amazing piece of evolution allows sound waves to be focused and... more about Galapagos Barn Owl

Galapagos Belted Kingfisher

The Belted Kingfisher is a winter visitor to the Galapagos, where it travels from North America! It’s not fully understood how the first Belted Kingfishers made their way all the way to Galapagos, but it’s most likely that... more about Galapagos Belted Kingfisher

Galapagos Blue-Footed Booby

Galapatours clients tell us that the Galapagos Blue-Footed Booby is one of their favorite wildlife encounters from the islands. And once you watch the males’ remarkable mating dance we’re sure they will be your favorite,... more about Galapagos Blue-Footed Booby

Galapagos Dove

The Galapagos Dove is known for its curiosity. Early sailors who landed on the Galapagos report the native doves landing on their hats, heads or shoulders. Sadly, this natural tame behaviour led to them becoming an easy source of food... more about Galapagos Dove

Galapagos Flightless Cormorant

Another unique Galapagos resident, the Flightless Cormorant is the only species of cormorant in the archipelago. It’s the heaviest of the world’s cormorants, and the only one to have evolved to become flightless, thanks... more about Galapagos Flightless Cormorant

Galapagos Frigatebirds

There are five species of frigatebird around the tropics, and two of them are found in the Galapagos - the Great Frigatebird and the Magnificent Frigatebird. However the differences between them are very subtle, and only the trained... more about Galapagos Frigatebirds

Galapagos Fur Seal

The Galapagos Fur Seal is only found on the rocky western shores of the Galapagos islands, and nowhere else. Sadly, their population is reducing and they are now officially listed as “endangered”. As they are most active... more about Galapagos Fur Seal

Galapagos Giant Tortoise

The most iconic of the Galapagos wildlife, the Giant Tortoise is unmistakable and probably one of the best known of the archipelago's native species. Capturing a photograph of a Galapagos Tortoise in the wild is often the highlight... more about Galapagos Giant Tortoise

Galapagos Greater Flamingo

The Greater Flamingo is the only flamingo species resident on the Galapagos. The current population is estimated to be between 400 and 500 individuals. These beautiful and elegant birds breed in small colonies at any time from June... more about Galapagos Greater Flamingo

Galapagos Green Turtle

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

Galapagos Hawk

The Galapagos Hawk is the archipelago's only hawk species and the largest bird of prey. The sight of its broad wings riding the updrafts is a common one from the sundeck of your Galapagos cruise. By the end of your trip, you’ll... more about Galapagos Hawk

Galapagos Hoary Bat

This is the larger of the two resident Galapagos bat species, and it can be found throughout the Galapagos archipelago, with recorded populations on Santa Cruz, San Cristóbal, Isabela, Santiago, and Floreana Islands. Like... more about Galapagos Hoary Bat

Galapagos Land Iguana

The Galapagos Land Iguana is one of three native species in the archipelago. Recognisable by their large size and yellow skin they have quite a fearsome appearance, sporting large claws and powerful legs. However they are mainly herbivores,... more about Galapagos Land Iguana

Galapagos Lava Gull

The Galapagos Lava Gull is found nowhere else on Earth except these wonderful islands. There are estimated to be fewer than 300 breeding pairs left, making this the rarest gull in the world. The Galapagos Lava gull is a striking and unmistakable... more about Galapagos Lava Gull

Galapagos Lava Heron

The delightful Lava Heron is a close relative of the Great Blue Heron and is found exclusively in the Galapagos. It was initially thought that the Lava Heron was a completely different... more about Galapagos Lava Heron

Galapagos Lava Lizard

The friendly Galapagos Lava Lizard is the most common reptile found throughout the Galapagos Islands. After just a few of your shore excursions on a Galapatours cruise you’ll be very familiar with these “miniature iguanas”... more about Galapagos Lava Lizard

Galapagos Marine Iguana

The Galapagos Islands are home to the only seafaring lizard in the world - the Galapagos Marine Iguana. This iconic reptile is found nowhere else on Earth, and it is made of 11 subspecies, each with a population on a different island.... more about Galapagos Marine Iguana

Galapagos Martin

This black bird is the only resident member of the swallow family in the entire Galapagos. The Martin has the incredible ability to feed on fast-flying insects which it catches while in flight. It’s during feeding like this that it’s... more about Galapagos Martin

Galapagos Mockingbird

Although Darwin’s Finches are the more famous birds who influenced Charles Darwin's early thoughts about natural selection, it was actually his study of the Mockingbirds on the archipelago that had the greatest influence on his... more about Galapagos Mockingbird

Galapagos Penguin

One of the most famous inhabitants of the archipelago, the Galapagos Penguins are also record-holders. Not only are they one of the world’s smallest penguin species, they are also the most northerly penguin species. In fact the... more about Galapagos Penguin

Galapagos Petrel

Galapagos Petrels are seabirds native to the Galapagos Islands. Despite making the Galapagos 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... more about Galapagos Petrel

Galapagos Racer Snake

The classification of Galapagos Racer snakes is continually changing. There is currently no definite classification but at least 4 different species of these endemic snakes are known to have existed, two of which are now presumed to be extinct. This... more about Galapagos Racer Snake

Galapagos Rail

The Galapagos Rail or (Galapagos Crake as it’s also known) is a small bird native to the islands that’s currently listed as vulnerable due to the damage caused by introduced non-native species. This charming... more about Galapagos Rail

Galapagos Red Bat

The Galapagos Red Bat is a subspecies of the Southern Red Bat, which is found throughout North and South America. Elsewhere in the world, the red bats migrate for winter in a similar way to some birds, but the Galapagos Red Bat is thought... more about Galapagos Red Bat

Galapagos Red-Billed Tropicbird

The Red-Billed Tropicbird can be found in various locations throughout the Pacific and Atlantic tropics, but the Galapagos is home to one of the key population centres. These are true seabirds, who spend most of their time far from... more about Galapagos Red-Billed Tropicbird

Galapagos Red-Footed Booby

The Red-Footed Booby is certainly not easily mistaken for any of the other booby species, thanks to those big crimson webbed-feet! They are the most numerous of the Galapagos booby species, but they are actually one of the most rarely... more about Galapagos Red-Footed Booby

Galapagos Red-lipped Batfish

A remarkable creature to look out for when you are enjoying your Galapagos cruise is the rather odd-looking native Red-Lipped Batfish. This unusual fish can be found in depths ranging from 50-300+... more about Galapagos Red-lipped Batfish

Galapagos Rice Rat

Rats are the only terrestrial mammal that arrived and settled naturally in the archipelago. Research has revealed that there were eleven different species of rats, eight of which have now become extinct. This discovery was mainly thanks to... more about Galapagos Rice Rat

Galapagos Sea Lion

The Galapagos 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... more about Galapagos Sea Lion

Galapagos Sea Robin

Native to the Galapagos is the curious Sea Robin. This bottom-dwelling fish can grow to around 12in (30cm) long. Its habitat is the sandy and rocky seabed at depths of 60-100ft (20-30m) although it has been known to frequent shallower waters. The... more about Galapagos Sea Robin

Galapagos Sharks

There are at least 9 shark species that are endemic or regular visitors to the Galapagos. Here are a few of the most popular species that you can encounter on a Galapagos diving cruise, or even snorkeling or during a panga ride on a... more about Galapagos Sharks

Galapagos Shearwater

This small black-and-white bird lives and breeds on the Galapagos Islands, but it has also been seen as far away as Western Mexico and the Central American coastline. Until recently, the Galapagos Shearwater was thought to be a subspecies of another... more about Galapagos Shearwater

Galapagos Short-eared Owl

This stunning bird is one of only two species of owls native to Galapagos, the other being the Galapagos Barn Owl. This small dark-brown owl measures up to 16 inches (40cm) in length... more about Galapagos Short-eared Owl

Galapagos Sting Rays

There are several species of rays that are commonly seen in the waters around the Galapagos 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... more about Galapagos Sting Rays

Galapagos Swallow-Tailed Gull

On your cruise in Galapagos, you will have a chance to spot the only exclusively nocturnal gull in the world. The Swallow-Tailed Gull only hunts for food at night, and over time this change to the natural circadian rhythm evolved to be a vital trait... more about Galapagos Swallow-Tailed Gull

Galapagos Vermilion Flycatcher

A highlight for bird spotters from around the world, the Galapagos Vermilion Flycatcher is a stunning bird that is instantly recognisable. There are actually two species resident in Galapagos, Darwin’s Vermilion Flycatcher, which... more about Galapagos Vermilion Flycatcher

Galapagos Waved Albatross

The Waved Albatross boasts the largest wingspan of any bird in the Galapagos. The Galapagos Waved Albatross is so-called because of the distinctive wave-like pattern that forms on the adult birds’ wings. Not only is a unique species... more about Galapagos Waved Albatross

Galapagos Whales & Dolphins

Cetaceans are the group of marine mammals to which Whales and Dolphins belong. There are two clear groups of whales - the Baleen whales and the Toothed whales. The Baleen whales, such as the Humpback whale or Bryde’s whale, have hair-like... more about Galapagos Whales & Dolphins

Great Blue Heron

The Great Blue Heron is known to be the largest heron in all of the Galapagos islands. It stands proudly at almost 3 ft (1m) tall with an incredible wingspan of over 6ft (2m)! Other heron species you can spot in Galapagos include the Lava... more about Great Blue Heron

Mobulas - Galapagos Rays

As well as Galapagos Sting Rays, there are two types of Mobula Rays which are commonly encountered swimming in the waters around the Galapagos Islands are... more about Mobulas - Galapagos Rays

Nazca Booby

Also known as the Masked Booby thanks to its distinctive head markings, the Nazca Booby is a well-established Galapagos resident, with the islands being home to approximately 15,000 to 20,000 breeding pairs. The Nazca is the largest... more about Nazca Booby

Sunfish

The two species of Mola, or sunfish, which are known to inhabit the Galapagos are the Mola Mola, also known as the Ocean Sunfish, and the Mola Ramsayi, the southern Sunfish. Sightings of both of these spectacular fish have been regularly... more about Sunfish

Whale Shark

The Whale Shark is the largest living fish in the ocean and can grow up to an astounding 50ft (16m) long! The species can be found in tropical and temperate waters all around the globe. As the Whale Shark is only one of three filter-feeding sharks... more about Whale Shark

White-cheeked Pintail

The main local duck species in Galapagos is the small White-Cheeked Pintail, often known as a “dabbling duck”. This brown-chested duck, with its distinctive white cheeks for which it’s named, can be found around the salt water,... more about White-cheeked Pintail

Yellow-crowned Night Heron

The Yellow-Crowned Night Heron is larger than the Lava Heron standing around 2ft (60cm) tall. It is known for its stocky stature, with a thick neck that becomes thinner when extended. This... more about Yellow-crowned Night Heron

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