Animals of the Galapagos: A Photo Essay

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Over the years I have taken a lot of photographs. Most of these images sit idly on my computer never to be seen again. So in an effort to make a few of these better images available, I have put together this short photo essay of a past trip to the Galápagos. Enjoy!

The Galápagos tortoise is one of two species of giant tortoise still in existence (the other being the Aldabra giant tortoise in the Indian Ocean). It figured prominently in Charles Darwin’s development of the theory of evolution. Giant tortoises can live well over 100 years but are vulnerable to human predation.

There are three species of Boobies in the Galápagos, the Blue-footed (top left & right), the Nasca (bottom), and the Red-footed (not pictured). All three boobies are common in the Galápagos but the red-footed variety is mostly spotted on Genovesa Island or at sea. Boobies are known for their lack of fear of predators and clumsy landings.

The Galápagos is also home to a variety of other birds including: American ostercatchers (top left), waved albatrosses (top right), lava gulls (bottom left), and Galápagos penguins (bottom right). The Galápagos penguin is one of the smallest species of penguins and the only to reside north of the equator thanks to the cold Humboldt current that runs through the islands.

Iguanas come in two varieties in the Galápagos: marine (photos 1 & 2) and land (photo 3). Marine iguanas subsist on algae and can dive up to 30 meters underwater to feed. Both the marine and the land iguana is endemic to the Galápagos.

Probably a highlight of any trip to Ecuador are the Galápagos sea lions. Bubbling with personality, these sociable marine mammals offer hours of entertainment, even showing off their underwater acrobatic skills to snorkelers and divers. Although protected, Galápagos sea lion populations can fluctuate greatly and have been listed as endangered.

The green sea turtle is the only species of turtle to nest on The Galápagos Islands. Green sea turtles in the Galápagos have a unique dark pigmentation that makes them look black. While green sea turtles have experienced a decline in numbers worldwide, their numbers in the Galápagos have been steady.

Although terrestrial animals often get top billing in the Galápagos, there is just as much dazzling wildlife beneath the surface. Some of the best snorkeling and diving can be found here where you are likely to spot the Whitetip reef shark (top left), the bullseye puffer (top right), Yellowtail Surgeonfish (bottom left) and King Angelfish and grunts (bottom right).

Probably my favorite experience was watching bottlenose dolphins ride in our bow wake (top left), a frequent occurrence when heading into port. Harder to spot but no less playful is the common dolphin (top right & bottom). Both species of dolphins, which are distributed worldwide, are abundant and only specific populations are threatened.

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