The Galapagos Islands are famous for their abundance of unique and rare animals, many of which can’t be found anywhere else. When visiting the islands, be sure to bring a good camera and maybe some binoculars to help you spot some of the most famous of the creatures.
1.- The return of Lonesome George
Few things are more iconic than the Galapagos’ giant tortoise, and up until his death in 2012 Lonesome George was the mascot for the species.
Lonesome George was the only remaining Pinta Island tortoise, a feat that also earned him the reputation as a conservation icon as well. His presence was significant because the species was often hunted and exploited by whalers and fur sealers in the 1800s. Because of these actions the number of Pinta tortoises dwindled until they were thought to be extinct. But the discovery of Lonesome George in 1971 dispelled this idea. Rangers hoped he would find a female partner, but none was ever found.
Lonesome George passed away in 2012, but his remains were preserved by taxidermists in New York. After a five- year tour, he is back in his home in the Galapagos Islands, giving you another chance to see the last Pinta tortoise and a window into the importance of conservation.
2.-The Giant Tortoises of Galapagos
Although Lonesome George was the last of the Pinta tortoises, the Charles Darwin Research Station still has others that you can see. Scientists believe the first of the Galapagos tortoises came from the South American coast about two to three million years ago. There were originally 15 types when Charles Darwin first arrived on the islands, but now there are about 10. Some can grow to be over 5 feet long and around 550 pounds.
3.- The Galapagos Sea Lion (Zalophus Wollebaeckii)
The Galapagos Sea Lions are lazily draped all around the islands. Sardines are their preferred choice of food and they can dive down to 350 meters, although they are known to be coastal animals. The males can weigh up to four times the more than the females. As you observe the wildlife, try to distinguish the males by looking for a large bump on the forehead.
4.- Manta Rays
Scuba diving is one of the most popular activities in the Galapagos, and for a good reason-it allows you to see a whole other set of animals. As you swim underwater, keep an eye out for these diamond-shaped fish. Because they are known to eat food that lives near the surface of the water, such as plankton and fish larvae, they are also often spotted from boats. While they are mostly black on top and white on the bottom, some are slightly blue on the back. The mouth of a Manta Ray can be located on the back of its head and it uses gills on the bottom to breathe.
5.- The Galapagos Land Iguana resembles the mythical creatures of the past-dragons with long tails. In San Crisotbal
During your time on the islands, you’re sure to see piles of these animals relaxing and sunning themselves on rocks and on the beach. The islands have three different species of these creatures which includes the conolophus subcristatus (which are yellow), the conolophus pallidus (the ones on Santa Fe island) and the conolphus marthae (which are pink). The iguanas can grow to be quite large, about more than three feet long. Although you’re sure to see many in out in the sun during your time on the islands, at night they prefer to sleep underground by digging down into the ground to preserve their body heat. Their preferred foods of choice are plants and shrubs.
6.- Galapagos Penguin
These funny creatures are quite small-they grow to become only about 5.5 pounds and 19 inches long. They are the only penguin species at the equator. It might seem odd to see an animal known to live in colder temperatures, but these have adapted to the equator’s warmth by panting and hunting for shade. Generally, they prefer to stick together in colonies and hunt for food in groups. When they need to dive, they usually go down about 26 feet, although they have been known to reach deeper depths.
7.- Pacific Green Sea Turtles
Look out for these sea turtles while you’re snorkeling-these animals spend most of their time underwater, choosing to come up to shore when it’s time to lay eggs. The turtle is named the Green Sea Turtle because the algae it eats affects the color of its tissues. Its light shell makes it easy for it to swim in the ocean and they have been known to swim as fast as 35 miles per hour. While the heaviest Green Sea Turtle was recorded to be 871 pounds, the average weight of one of these creatures is about 440 pounds.
8.- The blue-footed booby
These vibrant birds really do have blue feet, the color of which are said to correlate with the bird’s health. To distinguish the males from the females, listen to their calls-the females use a low honking call while the males have their own individual ones to distinguish themselves from others. The females also tend to have feet that are darker blue. They are known to be great divers who also use their webbed feet to cover and warm their young.
9.- The Greater Flamingo
These beautiful flamingos get their pink color from the carotenoids found in their diet of water plants and crustaceans. They stand on one leg and use their beaks to build nests with mud, straw, and tiny stones. Unlike some animals, these flamingos don’t have a specific breeding season, which means that they can lay eggs throughout the year. The pink hue of their feathers begin to develop when they are about two are three years old.