5 Galapagos Animals You Should Know About

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The Galapagos island – most famous for Charles Darwin’s finches and blue-footed boobies, however, there are many other animals this extraordinary island has to offer. The island is known to be a popular tourist destination with strict rules that exist to protect all wildlife from disturbance. With so many different animals to observe and admire, it is hard to narrow down which are the most interesting. However, there is a large abundance of certain animals like the Galapagos tortoises, sharks, iguanas, sea lions, and Darwin’s blue-footed seagulls.

Tortoises

Tortoise in Galapagos

This tortoise is something special to note, as it has so many different and unique characteristics about it. These particular tortoises only exist in two places in the world, one being the Galapagos. They weigh about 473 kg, making them the largest living tortoises in the world. The tortoises can live up to 170 years, making them also one of the longest-lived vertebrates.

Sadly, this species has declined in numbers. There used to be 250,000 tortoises in the 16th century and declined to 3,000 in the 1970s. This was due to pirates, whalers, and merchantmen hunting them down for food during the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, more than 100,000 tortoises are estimated to have been killed off.

Sharks

Galapagos Shark

These sharks are the most abundant shark species in the world and are found off the coasts of the Galapagos island. This large species often reaches 3.0 m (9.8 ft) and have the shape of “reef shark”. The sharks breed every two to three years with litters of four to 16 “pups”. The defining characteristic of this shark is its tall first dorsal fin, which has a slightly rounded tip and originates over the rear tips of the pectoral fins.

Iguanas

Galapagos Iguana

These iguanas are truly something special of the Galapagos. This animal can actually swim in the ocean, which they do in order to hunt for their food, making them a marine reptile which can only be found in the Galapagos. Darwin described these reptiles as “hideous-looking” and “most disgusting, clumsy lizards”. These lizards can grow to be .9 m – 1.2 m. They can weigh up to 1.5 kg, with their diet consisting of algae found in the sea.

Blue-footed Seagull

Blue-footed booby

The Galapagos animal, the blue-footed seagull which is also known as the blue-footed booby gets its nickname from the Spanish word bobo (“stupid”, “foolish”, or “clown”). This is because the blue-footed booby is, like other seabirds, clumsy on land. These seagulls can grow to have a wingspan of up to 1.5 m.

Their blue feet are a sexual trait in which the males display their feet in an elaborate mating ritual by lifting them up and down while strutting before the female. The blue feet help them stand out to the females and allow them to mate.

Sea Lions

Adorable Sea Lion

The adorable sea lions of the Galapagos island range from 1.5 to 2.5 m and weigh between 50 to 250 kg. Their whiskered nose and somewhat long, narrow muzzle makes the young pups look almost dog-like in profile. Sea lions hunt in the ocean about 0 to 15 kilometers from the coast over the span of days for their prey. The Galapagos sea lion can often get confused with its distant relatives. However, one of their distinct features is their external ear-like pinnae flaps (as seen in the picture above).

Cute Sea Lions of the Galapagos

Charles Darwin’s observations of the finches found on the heart of Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands, which have led to the theory of natural selection. This theory changed the way scientist view the world and the animals around us. Although the theory of natural selection can be interesting to some, wouldn’t it be cool to have your own thoughts on the matter? By visiting the Galapagos, you could see all the different wildlife the island has to offer. If you want to see all the Galapagos animals, Howlanders has several tours in which you can observe the abundant amount of species of the Galapagos like those listed above.

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