Do you love being around nature and animals? Are you fascinated by Charles Darwin’s research? If either of the questions resonates with you, then there is a solid chance that you would enjoy a trip to the Galapagos Islands. Located about 620 miles from continental Ecuador, the Galapagos archipelago is home to more than nine thousand animal species. Check out this list to find out what kind of interesting creatures you might encounter during your visit.
1. Galapagos Tortoise
For many people who book a Galapagos cruise vacation, seeing a famous Galapagos tortoise is a top priority. As majestic giants in the animal kingdom, these beautiful creatures are now endangered. At one time, there were more than 250,000 of these tortoises on the island, but now there are only around three thousand.
2. Galapagos Green Sea Turtle
Another animal that people often associate with the tortoise is the turtle, even though they are different species. When you visit the Galapagos, you will probably encounter more turtles than tortoises, especially is spend a lot of time in the ocean. Often, swimmers and other beachgoers spot large groups of turtles in the shallow waters.
3. Galapagos Land Iguana
Back on dry land, another animal you can see on a trip to the Galapagos is the Galapagos land iguana. With the capability of growing up to six feet long, these iguanas are not tiny creatures! Not only can they become very large, but they can also move incredibly fast. As another threatened species, humans have hunted these iguanas nearly to extinction. Today, there are only around five to ten thousand of them left on the islands.
4. Galapagos Pink Land Iguana
Speaking of iguanas, another one on the island is the pink land iguana. Although you should keep a lookout for it, there is much less of a chance that you will see it than the traditional Galapagos land iguana. The reason for this is that the pink iguana is critically endangered. Today, researchers estimate that there are only around 200 pink iguanas in existence.
5. Galapagos Lava Lizard
For a lizard that looks like a miniature iguana, there is the Galapagos lava lizard. While walking around the islands, you can find them sunning on lava or climbing on the heads of larger iguanas. They are particularly interesting animals to observe. For example, when these lizards feel threatened, they drop their tails to escape predators, and when food is scarce, they engage in cannibalism.
6. Galapagos Sea Lions
One of the cutest sights to encounter on a Galapagos vacation is a group of sea lion pups. Especially abundant on Genovesa Island, sea lions are on most Galapagos islands. The pups are very cute and playful, but be careful around any wild animal. While there seem to be many sea lions compared to other animals, natural predators such as killer whales and sharks help keep the population in check.
7. Galapagos Penguin
Given the warm weather of the region, would you ever expect to see a wild penguin on your trip to the Galapagos? Well, you can! As it turns out, the Galapagos penguin, the Spheniscus mendiculus, is the only penguin whose native home is north of the Equator. Despite their existence, however, they are endangered, with only around 1,500 penguins on the Galapagos Islands today.
8. Galapagos Flightless Cormorants
Evolution has changed animal species in many ways, and for the flightless cormorant, it is no different. This bird is unique because it has evolved by losing the ability to fly. While this is uncommon, it has happened to other birds, too. Instead of flying to catch dinner, these birds swim on the water’s surface like ducks, and they dive underwater to catch fish. Then, they waddle onto land, where they spend a lot of time.
Seeing amazing sights on vacation is always a treat, but being able to learn about interesting creatures while seeing them up close and in person can be even more awesome. With a cruise to the Galapagos, you can have both experiences! Plus, this list is only a sample of some of the cool animal species you will encounter there.