Galapagos and its unique animal life

The most intriguing Wildlife species.

Did you know that:
• The Galapagos is the only place where people can get up close and personal with some of the worlds never seen before animals?
• The last surviving giant pinta tortoise, ‘Lonesome George’ which passed away in 2012 lived in the Archipelago?
• The abundance of the Archipelagos marine-life is as a result of convergence of three ocean currents?
• The Galapagos is home to the only lizard which swims in the ocean, the Galapagos marine Iguana?
• The theory of The Origin of Species was based on Darwin’s Experience on The islands?
• The Islands are home to the only species of penguin which can be found in the northern hemisphere and also the only to breed in the tropics?
• The sea lions found in the islands are the smallest among the world seven species of sea lions?
• The world’s largest cormorant which is unable to fly can be found only in the Galapagos?
• By having reptiles on top of the food chain Galapagos has the world’s rarest ecosystem?
• The biggest red-footed booby colony is found in the islands?
• The islands most feared animal is a 30 cm centipede with venomous jaws?
• A survey conducted in 2010 showed that ten species found in the islands were new to science?


ANIMALS IN THE ISLANDS

GALAPAGOS SEA LIONS
The Galapagos sea lions are the most attractive marine mammals inhabiting the islands. They are between 150-250 centimetres in length and weigh between 50-400 kilograms. Males have brown fur and females tend to have a lighter tan and the pups are chest-nut brown coloured. Their bodies are streamlined to enable them to swim swiftly in the ocean and have flippers which they use to propel themselves in the water as well as on land. They are mainly found on the beaches of the islands and spend most of their times swimming. They feed mainly on fish, octopus and squids. The breeding season is a between may and January .

GALAPAGOS FUR SEA
Only found in these islands, the fur seals are the smallest land mammals in the seal species. They spend most of their time in the water are are not so commonly seen as the sea-lions because they live in rocky steeper shores. It is simples difficult to tell the two apart, but the fur seal has a broader, shorter head with a nose. They have thicker fur, which is dark gray-brown to nearly black. Their dense, glossy coats made them a prize target of furriers in the 1800s, when they were hunted nearly to extinction. They have made an impressive comeback, though, and island visitors are likely to see them at James Bay on Santiago and Darwin Bay, Genovesa.
Females are able to have offspring by their fifth year. Giving birth to puppies takes place in the cool season beginning in August and lasting until November.

MARINE IGUANAS
On about every rocky shoreline of the islands you will find the Marine Iguanas, the only lizard that swims in the ocean. They live on land but feed on a variety of sea weeds. This provides them with a substantial amount of food source but they are prone to predation by sharks and other fish. They are found on every island in concentrated numbers. An interesting fact is that when the lizards get hungry they shrink in length and get shorter. During famine the lizards shrink and re-grow again in plentiful times. During breeding season, the males defend their territories where they mate with the females. The iguanas change colours when they mature. Different islands have different colours of Iguanas.

LAND IGUANA
The land Iguanas grow to over 1 meter in length and can weigh up to 13 kilos. They can live up to 60 years and are mostly active during the day where they maintain their body temperatures by basking gleefully in the sun. They have a heavy body and very powerful legs.
Land Iguanas are endemic to the Galapagos Islands. They are found in 6 of the islands; Isabela, Fernandina, Santa Cruz, North Seymour, Hood and South Plaza. They are found in drier, scrub areas of the islands and they live in burrows. They are primarily and 80% of their diet is the prickly-pear cactus. They also complement their diet with insects if possible. They obtain most of their water from their food, but during the rainy season they will drink from standing pools of water.
Male Land Iguanas court females and after mating, females go to find a suitable place to lay eggs. They can travel up to 15 kilometers to find a nesting site.
The females make a hole that is about 45 cms (18 inches) deep in which they lay 2 - 25 eggs. They will guard the nest for a few days after laying to make sure that no other females lay their eggs in the same place.
After 90 - 110 days the young iguanas emerge and dig their way to the surface. During the first few years of their life they are very susceptible and they reach adulthood between 8 and 15 years of age.

GALAPAGOS GIANT TORTOISES
The giant tortoise is most likely the best known of all Galapagos animals and even gave the Islands its name; `Galapago` which means tortoise in Spanish. Galapagos tortoises can weigh up to 250 kilograms and live for more than 100 years. Giant tortoises are full of life for much of the day, spending most of it feeding. They are vegetarian, eating a great variety of plants in large quantities but their digestive system is rather inefficient so much of the food passes through their body without digestion. At night they sleep, often in the ground which helps conserve body heat. They survive for long periods of time without drinking by breaking down their body fat to produce water. However, they do enjoy staying in water, and on the wet season large numbers of tortoises can be seen bathing in mud-covered pools.
Giant tortoises reach sexual maturity at the age of 40. The breeding season is usually at the end of the hot season. Mating may last for several hours and the males often give hoarse roars. The females then travel up to several miles to sandy ground where they dig up their nests. They lay between 2 -16 egg. The female makes a muddy plug for the nest hole out of soil mixed with urine and leaves the eggs to incubate in the heat from the sun. The eggs hatch after around 4 months

BIRDS IN THE ISLANDS

THE LARGEST BIRD IN THE ISLANDS
The biggest bird in the island is the Waved Albatross found in the East-pacific. It has a wingspan of 3.5 metres and can fly for days. They live in the Espanola island are a delight to watch when they perform they famous courtship dances during the mating season. They leave the island on January and migrate to the coast of South America and return in early April.

RED-FOOTED BOOBIES
The red-footed boobies nest on trees or bushes. They show maturity at a very young state and state mating while still young. This might in a way explain the large sizes of their colony. They are found in the bird island (Genovesa island). While they are the most numerous of all birds in the archipelago, they are also the rarest seen because they nest on the peripheral islands of the archipelago.

BLUE-FOOTED BOOBIES
The blue-footed boobies are known as being fearless divers. They can dive 30 metres in search for fish. They are attent dancers, almost picturesque. They dance with heir beaks pointed skywards and stomp their ground with their huge blue webbeb feet. They are mostly found in the Daphne Islands, Isabela and North Seymour. When in the islands, look for their courtship dance. Their loud calls are cannot be missed. Indulge yourself in identifying which ones are males and which ones a females. Tip, females have larger pupils because they are pigmented.

NAZCA BOOBIES (formerly Masked Boobies)
The Nazca boobies are largest of the three species and they are mainly found in Genovesa island. There is something which is intriguing about how they up bring their small ones. If you are lucky to be there during the hatching season you will encounter an interesting phenomenon. They generally hatch two eggs and the oldest chick is raised much more profoundly than the other by being feed more. You will notice than one chick is incredibly huge in size than the other. Scientists are still baffled by this. Natural selection in process!!

THE GALAPAGOS (FLIGHTLESS) CORMORANT
This species of bird lives in the Isabela islands and Fernandina because of the plenty food and nesting opportunities these islands can offer. Because of the plentiful food, these birds didn’t have any use for the wings and therefore became flightless as a means of evolution. They are the only cormorant that does not fly.

FRIGATEBIRDS
These are sea birds that are not waterproof! You won’t find them swimming looking for fish. Well how do they eat then? Simple. They still from the other birds especially the red-footed boobies. What an interesting strategy. During breeding season, they are too lazy to build their own nests and find shelter in other birds homes.
There are two types of frigate birds in the islands, the magnificent frigate bird and the Great frigate bird. They are mostly found in the Genovesa Island and the North Seymour Islands.

THE NORTHERLY PENGUINS
The Galapagos penguins are mostly found in along the rocky shores of the islands Isabela, Santiago, Bartolome and Fernandina. They were brought to this latitudes because of the Humboldt current which cools off the islands where t he penguins live. Look for them on rock crevices along the shorelines. Want to see a torpedo? Jump in the water with the penguins and watch how they gracefully fly through the water in rocket speeds like arrows.

RED-BILLED TROPIC BIRD
The red-billed bird has a vision which cannot be matched by the other birds. They fly through the horizons and cut at high speed rates into the ocean waves to catch fish. They travel 65-80 kilometers away from their nests to feed. They are covered in while plumage dress and have a long tail and a red bill. Be sure not to miss their spectacular air shows in the Islands, Genovesa and Espanola.

PINK AT SEA
There is also some pink in the Galapagos which comes in form of Flamingos. These impressive birds arrived from the Caribbean and are the most colourful of the shore birds.They are introduced carnivores and feed on chicks.
Galapagos Islands, An Introduction:
Islands Overview:
Galapagos: when to Go :
Choosing a Galapagos Cruise:

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