There is many reasons to love Galápagos. From seeing how evolution theory looks like in reality to unique landscapes to amazing fauna…just get a pick. I guess one of the main reasons people travel to those beautiful islands are their beautiful inhabitants and the list is long.
The Galapagos Islands are probably the most famous wildlife-watching destination in the world. And no wonder – it’s almost impossible to exaggerate the sheer spectacle of the place that provided inspiration for Charles Darwin’s ground-breaking theory of natural selection.
Galápagos is a place where you can have the greatest adventures. It is a place where you can find soothing silence surrounded by nature. This is a place where you are a guest. For me the trip was not about the beach, sun or landscapes. Those were extra perks. The trip was about the unspoiled nature and rich fauna that can be found only there.
Ever since I learned about existence of giant tortoises at the age of 8, as far as I recall, I wanted to meet them. It seemed impossible. The land of Galápagos was far far away, behind seven mountains and seven seas. Like in fairytale. That’s what it was for me. Then I grew up and started traveling. Even though the world is constantly getting smaller and smaller, those islands still were a dream. A dream that I was not sure could ever come true.
Remember that dreams are for making them come true.
I guess I have proven already (mostly to myself) that if you dream hard enough those dreams might come true. Galápagos dream finally came true a couple of weeks ago. It is really a place that can make you speechless. I was amazed how many amazing animals can be found there. I would like to share my excitement a little bit and make this little list of the animals we have met. And just to be clear…this is only a little list, there is many more animals leaving on the islands. Hope you’ll enjoy.
Animals of Galápagos
Blue- footed boobies
One of the funniest birds I have ever seen: funny name with a funny look behaving funnily. When a male successfully finds a girlfriend that agrees to ‘marry him’ they dance together. This is actually what it looks like. They put their blue feet up and wave. The males whistle and the females make a hoarse ‘quack’. The blueness of their feet indicates the health of the birds. The brighter the blue is, the healthier and stronger the bird is as the colour is obtained from food.
It is a sea-bird wearing a mask. Although the official name of this bird is Nazca booby, it is also commonly called masked booby. You can see why. On the islands you can also find red-footed boobies, but they are rarer and inhabit only a small part, which is accessible by a cruise only. I found all the boobies beautiful and fascinating and the Nazca one is the largest of all boobies.
How cute are those?! They are everywhere. Those animals constantly remind you that the islands are theirs and you are just a guest. It might be a challenge to find a place to seat on a bench there, they occupy them all.
Marine iguanas, aka dragons, are really beautiful to watch. The spend a lot of time at the beach, or roads, or bridges…basically anywhere you walk, and when they accumulate enough heat they go back in the water. It is even more fascinating to see them swim underwater.
One of the most fascinating experiences in Galápagos for me was being able to see the sharks in their natural habitat. Well, not only see them, swim with them and see their faces up close. There is many of them and they are not as scary as the fame was given to them.
I love dolphins. They seem to enjoyed coming close to our boat and swim with the waves we were making. The bottle nosed dolphins are the most common in the Galápagos waters. Two kinds of common dolphin can also be seen there. and there is five species of dolphins near the islands. It is always a beautiful show they make swimming and jumping in front of boats.
Beautifully elegant flamingoes can be mostly found in Isabela Island. We stayed and watched this one funnily falling asleep, hiding his entire head in the feather on his back. It took us a while to get that picture when he finally decided to show his pretty face.
Giant Galápagos tortoise
Watch the traffic! This young, probably no more than 20 years old tortoise (I am not an expert, so this one could be even younger) and many of his brothers and sisters were happily wandering the cycle paths or the big asphalt roads. The islands were named after those creatures, which are iconic animals of the islands.
Those beautiful giants were basically the reason I started dreaming of that trip. I was so happy to be able to see them in their home. What do you think about those giants? They are quite fascinating, don’t you think? They seem so well protected by the shell but they get scared so easily, that’s why it is so important to keep the distance and be quiet around them. Or else they hide in their little houses making hissing sounds.
Swimming with so much grace, sea turtles are beautiful to watch. I could never get enough of them. They came close, swam underneath me giving me a perfect opportunity to see their faces up close. The way they swim looks effortless, elegant and calm. Just looking at them is relaxing in itself or I could even compare it to meditation.
This beautiful video was done by Lars, with whom we stayed in Isabela island in his beautiful Guesthouse Lava Lizard. He had plenty of stories to tell and tips to give.
Those birds are really cool to watch, especially when they are hunting for food in the sea. They fly over water and then suddenly, like an arrow, dive with a hope to catch some dinner. At times they go the easy way and wait for the fishermen to drop a piece on the floor, like this one, for example. You can see the fishermen cleaning and selling the fish surrounded by greedy pelicans and sea lions. It is a funny image scene to watch.
The Galápagos penguins are the smallest ones in the world and the only ones that can be found on the north side of the equator. We could not see them as closely as I would like, but close enough to see that they are pretty.
Galápagos Yellow Warbler
A pretty yellow tiny bird we spotted a couple of times on the islands. It is not endemic to the Galápagos and can be found in many places from Alaska to Peru.
This is a creature that I have never seen before anywhere else. We only spotted one of those funnily walking animals. There is many species of hermits
Red crab Sally Lightfoots
Young crabs are black to be able to hide between the rocks easily. It is quite difficult to spot them. As they grow up they turn into electric red colour. You can see them in many places on the islands. Quite beautiful, don’t you think?
This is the only dark-coloured gull and it is the rarest gull in the world. It is estimated that there are only 400 pairs of those birds. This one was staying very close to the fishermen in hope to get a piece, just like the pelicans and sea lions.
There is only a few left of those hawks on the islands, which are also the only diurnal raptors on the Galápagos islands. We were lucky to see one on Bartolomé island, that was rather friendly and let us keep him company for a while. The hawk was observing us with curiosity and gracefully posed for photos. We stayed with the bird until he got bored with us and decided to look for something more interesting to do.
We managed to see only a few sea horses and they had to be pointed to by our guides. Those creatures surely know how to hide.
Another ‘dragon’! I loved watching iguanas. They can stay still for ages! They don’t move enjoying the heat of the sunshine. It took us a lot of time to see them move and once they start, they get pretty fast. This one almost got into a fight with two other iguanas over that yummy piece of cactus.
A few meter-wide manta rays were beautiful to watch. They looked like elegant birds ‘flying’ in the water. We were lucky to spot a few of them on our way back from a snorkeling trip and a few brave tour companions jumped into the ocean without thinking too much, just to be able to see them as close as possible under water. It seemed very difficult though to get close enough as those animals are incredibly fast and a bit shy.
Swallowed tailed gulls
I watched those fascinating birds for a while. They live with the same partner for all their lives and share looking after the egg and chick. Both of them look after each other and I could witness how they changes the turn of looking after the egg. One og them pokes the other and switch places.
There are 4 different species of a mockingbird on the islands. They mimic all the sounds around them and they like approaching humans with curiosity, hence I had a chance for a portrait photo od the mockingbird.
Thos birds have patience! This one was standing there without moving for a while. We watched it, walked around it, took a few photos. Not even a blink. It was still there, standing on that fence in the town a couple of hours later. At some point we wondered if it is a statue, it surely could fool someone.
Those are really just a few animals we were lucky to see. Many of them didn’t even make to get a photo. The abundance of life under water is even more incredible than the life you can witness on land. Of course it was not as easy to get photos or videos of the ocean inhabitants. The variety of fish of any colour imaginable can make you dizzy. It is truly something marvellous.
There were times that I prefered to put my camera away and just watch them, because it something truly incredible. The richness of the island can be overwhelming. Wherever you look you see how beautiful nature is, whether those are the animals to see and the plants. The islands are unique, you might feel like being inside a novel about a far-away, virgin island in the middle of the ocean, to which you arrived on a tiny wooden boat. Except…it is almost true!
Species that have been recorded so far in the islands:
Mammals: 32 species
Reptiles: 28 species
Darwin Finches: 13 sub-species
Sea Birds: 42 species
Shore Birds: 34 species
Water Birds: 21 species
Land Birds: 49 species
Thank you for visiting. I am curious, guys, what is your dream place you want to travel to? Which of those animals is your favourite? Mine is definitely the blue-footed booby. If you have a travel dream (or any non-travel related one), what do you do to make it come true?
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