Most Special Animals of the Galapagos Islands

August 9th, 2022 – Axel Baquerizo

The Galapagos Islands are known for their unique and diverse wildlife, and many fascinating animals call the islands home.

These are just a few examples of the incredible wildlife that can be found on the Galapagos Islands. Each species has its unique characteristics and adaptations that have evolved over time in response to the islands’ unique environment.

We will show you some of their characteristics, as well as their behavior, day-to-day life, and where you can find them in the Galapagos Islands. Click and learn more about the Galapagos Wildlife Month by Month

 Most of the animals that you will find on the Islands are endemic to the Galapagos, which means they only exist in this location. Since many of them face extinction, they are given quite strict care. If you intend to travel in the future in order to safeguard the survival of these creatures, you must follow the following rules.


The 15 most special animals of the Galapagos islands

Location map of the 15 most important species


One of the most recognizable creatures of the Galapagos Islands is the Galapagos Giant Turtle, often known as the Galapagos Tortoise.

Because to their dome-shaped shells, which shield them from predators and extreme weather, Galapagos Giant Turtles have successfully adapted to the hard environment of the islands. They consume a range of flora, such as grasses, cactus pads, and fruit, as they are herbivores.

The Galapagos Islands’ history was significantly influenced by these tortoises. They were extremely overpopulated since they were once hunted for their meat and oil by sailors and pirates. Visitors may now see these incredible creatures in their native habitat on the islands thanks to conservation efforts that have protected and restored their populations.


  • Huge Size: The biggest turtles in the world are found on the Galapagos Islands. They can grow up to 5 feet long and weigh up to 500 pounds (225 kg) (1.5 meters).
  • Long Lifespan: These tortoises have a reputation for having lengthy lives; some have been recorded to live for over a century. Galapagos giant turtles have been known to live for more than 150 years, according to records.
  • Dome-Shaped Shell: The tortoise’s dome-shaped shell aids in protecting it from scavengers and bad weather.
    The shell’s bony plates are coated in a hard, scaly coating.
  • Legs that are Thick and Strong: The tortoise has legs that are thick and powerful, allowing it to walk through rocky terrain and sustain its heavy body weight.
  • Herbivorous Diet: Galapagos Giant Turtles are herbivores, feeding on a variety of vegetation such as grasses, cactus pads, and fruit.
  • Slow Metabolism: The very sluggish metabolism of these tortoises enables them to preserve energy and endure for extended periods of time without food or water.
  • Unique Shell Patterns: Each Galapagos Giant Turtle has a unique pattern on its shell, similar to a human fingerprint. These patterns can be used to identify individuals and track their movements over time.

These are only a few of the Galapagos Giant Turtle’s numerous unique characteristics. Be sure to take the time to see these incredible species up close if you ever have the chance to travel to the Galapagos Islands.

This wonderful species can be seen in different parts of the Galapagos Islands, such as: Santa Cruz and Isabela islands, but can also be seen in Española, Pinzón, Santiago or San Cristóbal.


The Galapagos Islands are home to another remarkable type of turtle, the Galapagos Sea Turtle.  The mild seas surrounding the Galapagos Islands are home to Galapagos Sea Turtles. They have been observed living in sheltered coves, lagoons, rocky shorelines, offshore locations, and open ocean.

While visiting the Galapagos Islands, there are many of chances to see Galapagos Sea Turtles if you’re interested. Popular activities that give you the chance to see these fascinating creatures up close and in their natural habitat include snorkeling and diving tours.

These turtle photos are fantastic; you can find them while diving; they are usually found on reefs, so they are in a very beautiful ecosystem, and you can swim with them because they are very friendly. While diving or snorkeling with Galapagos Sea Turtles can be a wonderful experience, it’s necessary to do so properly and with a certified guide to ensure the safety and protection of these incredible animals and their ecosystem.

Sea turtles are endangered animals; they are hunted for their meat, and this must be addressed because they could become extinct in a matter of years. Even if they are in danger, you can always visit them with respect and responsibility to take care of them.


  • Size: With an adult length of up to 3 feet (1 meter) and a weight of up to 440 pounds, Galapagos sea turtles are among the largest species of sea turtles (200 kilograms).
  • Diet: Being herbivores, these turtles eat a variety of seaweeds and algae.
  • Lifespan: Galapagos sea turtles have a long lifespan, with some living to be over 80 years old.
  • Mating: The females of these sea turtles lay their eggs on beaches in the Galapagos Islands after mating in the water.
  • Nesting: Female Galapagos Sea Turtles lay their eggs on the same beach where they were born.
    To lay their eggs, they dig a hole in the sand, cover it, and then re-enter the water.
  • Conservation: Due to their endangered status, efforts are being made to safeguard and preserve the populations of Galapagos Sea Turtles.
    This entails safeguarding their oceanic feeding grounds and minimizing the effects of human activities on their nesting beaches.
  • Importance to Ecosystem: Galapagos sea turtles are crucial to the health of the marine ecology of the Galapagos Islands.
    By grazing on algae and keeping the grasses short, they contribute to the upkeep of healthy sea grass beds, which in turn provides habitat for a range of other marine animals.

These tortoises can be found all across the Galapagos Islands, we can see them on the coasts of all the islands that comprise the Galapagos. Santa Cruz Island is the highest concentration. These will greet you upon your arrival on each island, making them one of Galapago’s unique endemic species.

Gardner Bay on Española Island, Tortuga Bay on Santa Cruz Island, and Las Tintoreras on Isabela Island are a few of the well-known places to watch Galapagos sea turtles. Yet, these turtles can also be found in a variety of different locations near the islands.


The Galapagos blue-footed booby is a species of marine bird that is native to the Galapagos Islands in the Pacific Ocean. These birds are recognized for their turquoise-blue feet, which are vivid shades of blue. Their undersides are white, while their wings and back are brownish-gray in color. They have a long, pointed beak with a blue-gray tip that is made of yellow.

Blue-footed boobies males will frequently use their feet to undertake elaborate courtship displays in order to attract a mate, and the intensity of the blue coloration on their feet is regarded to be a sign of their general health and reproductive fitness.

The majority of blue-footed boobies’ diet consists of fish, and they will dive into the water from considerable heights to obtain their meal.
Their capacity to swim underwater while utilizing their wings to essentially “glide” through the water is another well-known trait.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) rates the Galapagos blue-footed booby as a species of least concern, however numbers on several of the archipelago’s islands have been declining recently as a result of habitat degradation, imported predators, and other threats. To help safeguard these recognizable birds and their distinctive island habitat, conservation initiatives are in the works.


  • Habitat: Blue-footed boobies are mostly found on the Galapagos Islands’ rocky coasts and cliffs, where they construct their nests from sticks and twigs.
  • Behaviour: These birds are well-known for their remarkable courtship displays, in which males lift and lower their blue feet to display them to prospective mates. They also frequently engage in a “dance” that involves lifting and spreading their wings.
    Also, they are well-known for their unusual “sky pointing” behavior, in which they balance on one leg while pointing their bill upward.
  • Diet: Blue-footed boobies dive into the sea from heights of up to 80 feet to collect small fish like anchovies, sardines, and mackerel for their primary diet (24 meters).
  • Breeding: Blue-footed boobies create long-lasting pair connections because they are monogamous.
    The average female lays two eggs at a time, which the two parents alternately incubate for about 41 days.
  • Physical adaptations: Blue-footed boobies have streamlined bodies, webbed feet, and air sacs in their bones that help them float in the water. These adaptations enable them to be successful hunters and swimmers.
  • Conservation: The Galapagos blue-footed booby is currently regarded as a species of least concern, but numbers on several of the archipelago’s islands have been declining recently as a result of habitat degradation, imported predators, and other threats. To help safeguard these recognizable birds and their distinctive island habitat, conservation initiatives are in the works.

Blue-footed boobies can be found throughout the Galapagos Islands, as they are one of the most common and widespread bird species in the archipelago. They are typically found along the rocky shores and cliffs of the islands, where they build their nests out of sticks and twigs.

The following are some of the best locations to see blue-footed boobies in the Galapagos:

  • North Seymour Island: Visitors can frequently observe blue-footed boobies conducting their unusual courtship displays on North Seymour Island, which is home to a sizable breeding population of the birds.
  • Española Island: This island is known for its large population of blue-footed boobies, as well as its other endemic bird species, such as the waved albatross.
  • Isabela Island: This is the largest island in the Galapagos and is home to a number of blue-footed booby colonies, including one at Punta Albemarle.

  • San Cristobal Island: This island is home to several blue-footed booby colonies, including one at Punta Pitt.


As each of the three booby species has a distinguishing feature, in this case, this species has red feet and feathers that are brown and white, which distinguishes it from the other boobies. Because of its striking colors, this bird is very popular with tourists. Within the islands, this species is highly recognized and valued, making it one of the big 15 that you can see on a trip to the Galapagos Islands.

This species creates its nests in small trees, and even on the top of bushes, so they are visible to tourists, this makes them much loved and easily seen. These birds can be found on the islands of Genovesa and San Cristobal.


It is the least conspicuous species of booby, and although it looks similar to the colorful boobies, its behavior is very different. This species is very competitive, and it is the species that takes away the nesting spaces of the other two booby species. This allows them to locate in the best areas to avoid predators and have more food. This species can be seen up to 100 meters above sea level, giving them an advantage over other birds. Their tail feathers, which are very different from those of other birds, help you identify them in the air.

The Nazca booby is very shy, making it difficult to see them up close. They do not like the company of humans, so most of their territory is found on less populated islands, such as Floreana, Genovesa, and Española.


When you think of animals at the top of the food chain, you usually think of lions or bears, but in the Galapagos Islands, this position is claimed by the Galapagos Hawk, an extraordinary bird. It is a treat to watch, it can do pirouettes as well as train, but although the Galapagos are typically free, they can be seen hunting in the upper portion of the Pacific waters, which is also very beautiful. Galapagos eagles are extremely fast and can fly high. 

These birds may be found on most of the Galapagos Islands, however, eagles prefer areas with iguanas because it is their primary food source, but don’t worry, it won’t hurt you because it is highly courteous and friendly with humans. They are very shy, so try not to ask her for a selfie.


¿Flamingos? Yes, and even there is unusual to find Flamingos in South America or even outside the Caribbean, we can see Flamingos during Galapagos trips; although this species is a derivative of the American species, it is unique and endemic to the Galapagos Islands. Its majesty, as well as its color and unique legs, make it a visual treat to see this bird, which creates a very beautiful ecosystem around it.

They are one of the largest birds on all the Galapagos islands, reaching 140 cm, this makes them larger than certain turtles. If you want to appreciate a specimen of this species, you should be very cautious because these birds are very shy, so try not to get too close. You can see them on most islands, however the highest concentration of population can be found on Isabela island, that is another reason to visit this island that, in furthermore to its beauty, contains a wide variety of animals to have fun and create memories with.


If you think of the most remarkable bird, this is the first thing that comes to mind. If you were wondering its chest is not against water, well the real use for his fluffy chest is that this bird uses it to dance in search of a partner, and this act is something that visitors enjoy watching because, in addition to puffing out their red chests, the frigate birds have a peculiar sound and dance that makes this a very interesting time to live.

Meeting this species is something spectacular, in addition to being visually entertaining, they are very friendly, so they get much closer to humans than other birds, so you can take photos with these birds, although it is ideal not to disturb them during their search for a mate, these birds are possibly a bit harder to find because they do not like to be in the same territory as the Galapagos hawk due to their rivalry, They are usually found on the islands of Floreana, Genovesa, Seymour, and San Cristobal.


If you see something running very fast along the beaches, you are correct, it is a land iguana, they are very shy, so they will not let you touch them, besides being so fast, they have something that makes them so special, and yes, it is their colors, it depends a lot on which island they are located on, but they are usually earthy yellow as well as brown or even green, these are a great company since many of these iguanas like to sunbathe.

Iguanas are known for their amazing ability to adapt to their environment; you can see them eating flies and cactus, and if you get to make friends with one, it will be very friendly to you; all you have to do is give him a couple of insects.

Although this species is not native to Galapagos, it creates a very friendly ecosystem as it is very fascinating to see their customs and the way they live together, one of which is their way of running, they can cross small distances of water running over it, making them one of the strangest and most fabulous species that should not be missed on a trip to Galapagos.


Marine iguanas are an example of evolution; they are the only reptiles that can dive more than 25 meters underneath the surface of the water and stay there for more than 15 minutes. Marine iguanas are one of the most extraordinary species of the Galapagos Islands, not only because they are physiologically incredible reptiles, but also because their colors are very striking; these species are typically bright red or light brown, making them one of the most incredible endemic species that you can enjoy on a Galapagos trip.

Few people realize that the marine iguana absorbs a lot of salt water due to its diet of smaller marine animals, so its body has adapted to sneeze salt, Yeah! salt is an excellent characteristic of the iguanas, this allows them to eliminate what is left over and Spare their bodies; additionally, you can find these iguanas sunbathing on lava stones to increase the heat in their bodies and continue swimming.

This species of iguana can be seen in greater numbers on the Fernandina and Isabela islands, although smaller specimens can also be seen on the other islands.


The Santa Fe Island land iguana is one of the Big 15 species that have best adapted to its environment, making it one of the most endemic species and hence one of the most visited. These Iguanas have numerous survival obstacles, one of which is food. Normally, we find iguanas consuming vegetables or insects, but this variety feeds primarily on pears and cactus, from which it collects water and nutrients.

Few things, however, thrill these iguanas more than the yellow flowers of the species Portulaca. When this plant is in flower, the iguanas would happily eat on its flowers all day. This makes this time the best to see them since these iguanas will be in sight while they eat.

The place where they are found, as its name says, is Santa Fe island.


The Galapagos penguins are the rarest of the 18 kinds discovered in the world because they are the only ones found in the circumstances of an equatorial island, making them one of the islands’ most valued and protected animals.

Many people wonder why these penguins, unlike many others, can live in such unusual conditions for their species. This is because they do not have time to have babies, whereas other penguins have. These Penguins can have between one and three eggs per year, making them the species that can reproduce the most times in a year.

Another thing that many people are curious about is how they live in such high temperatures. These penguins fight the weather in an unusual method; because they lack sweat glands, they cannot sweat, thus when they are hot, they will jump into the water, which will keep their temperature in the optimum range.


This species, like the penguins, is very unusual in being found on the equator, which makes it endemic. Being a cold climate species, it is smaller, because of several faults that it has within this ecosystem, see This species is very common; you can usually find them in the central islands because they can find more food than in the peripheral islands.

The males of this species are typically very competitive, which leads to the formation of groups that defend their territory. For the same reason, specific areas have been established to house these animals, as they are extremely shy around humans. Sea lions can be found on rocky beaches, and they are very entertaining to watch. They hunt by first playing with their prey, and you will usually see them chasing penguins, though they rarely reach them.


The Galapagos Islands’ fur seals are very similar to sea lions, but some differences distinguish them. The main differences are that this species is smaller, so it hunts within 60 to 100 meters, they have the largest eyes to hunt at night, and they have the largest heads, unlike sea lions.

They can be found in the same places as sea lions, in less traveled by tourists, and in very large herds, which makes it easier to protect their babies from potential predators while also hunting for food together.


The Galapagos flightless cormorant is a Galapagos endemic species that is not only the heaviest cormorant species but also the only one that cannot fly out of 29. Because they are unable to fly, they are confined to the lava shoreline and beaches of Isabela and Fernandina. The adults are dark brown on top and black on the bottom, with bright turquoise eyes. They have stunted wings that are one-third the size of the wingspan required for flight.

Although their wings are stunted, the cormorant uses them for balance as it jumps from rock to rock along the coast. Because their wings don’t produce much oil, they’ve lost some of their waterproofing, so after a dive, they can be seen holding their wings out to dry.

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