The Galapagos Islands are home to an amazing amount of endemic wildlife species from fish and insects to mammals and birds. The Galapagos wildlife may have become most famous after Darwin went to the islands in 1835 and came up with natural selection and evolution before releasing his famed study, On The Origin of Species, detailing what he found. Since that study was published, the unique wildlife on the islands has been one of the biggest draws for visitors. There are many species that if you want to see them, you have to go to the Galapagos. Check out a few of our favorite wildlife species!
This is the largest bird found on the Galapagos Islands. The waved albatross is the only albatross that only lives in the tropics. While this bird does fly far and wide, it only breeds in the Galapagos Islands, making your chance of seeing one of them here much more likely than anywhere else in the world!
Magnificent Frigate Bird
One of the easiest birds to spot and pick out on the islands, the male magnificent frigate bird sports a large red throat pouch. The pouch inflates larger and larger as the birds try and make themselves more attractive mates for the female birds. The magnificent frigate on the Galapagos is thought to be distinct, genetically, from other frigates because it hasn’t bred with another frigate breed for hundreds of thousands of years.
Possibly the most popular animal for photos is the Sally Lightfoot crab. Its beautiful colors shimmer in the beaming sun as it scurries across rocks in and near the ocean. What differentiates this Sally Lightfoot from others is its interaction with the marine iguanas on the islands. They have a symbiotic relationship and clean ticks off of the iguana, a good source of food for them.
These tiny lizards are found all over the Galapagos Islands. There are seven distinct species of lizard that have been recognized so far. They are a great example of evolution and adapting to environments to survive— perfect specimens for Darwin’s studies!
The most famous and iconic animal from the Galapagos is the giant tortoise; the islands were named after them! These are the largest tortoises in the world and can live for more than 170 years. Even given the long life span, there are only about 15,000 giant tortoises left in the world. Good news is that because of conservation efforts the population is on the rebound.
This is the only iguana in the world that has the ability to go into the sea for food. This unique quality likely came from the need to survive. With little to no nutritious vegetation for the iguana on land, over hundreds of years the marine iguana started going into the sea to eat seaweed. It is now unlike any other iguana you may find!
More wildlife species to look for on your family vacation in the Galapagos Islands are the blue footed booby, the fur seal, the Galapagos penguin, and many, many finches. This is one of the best locations for a multigenerational family vacation where you can relax and have an unforgettable adventure!