20 Animals You’ll See in Galapagos

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What other reason is there to visit the Galapagos Islands if not to see the incredible diversity of wildlife that lives on this one-of-a-kind archipelago. Taylor and I went in search of tortoises, penguins, sea turtles, marine iguanas, blue-footed boobies and more, and frankly, they weren’t too hard to find.

In Galapagos, unique wildlife can be found behind seemingly every lava rock, cactus, reef or mangrove. Here’s a slideshow¬†of some of the best Galapagos wildlife photos we took on our trip in May 2016. If you go, you could see these animals and more! Click below to see the slideshow:

Let's start with the islands' namesake - the Galapagos tortoise. There are 11 living species of Galapagos tortoise, some critically endangered. This one is from Santa Cruz island. The Galapagos tortoises we saw were easily 4-5 feet long. At that size, they are often more than 120 years old. You won't have to look to hard to find the marine iguana - another species that evolved on Galapagos. Marine iguanas are the only iguana species to swim in the ocean. They eat algae off the volcanic rock at the bottom of shallow coastal waters. They also have evolved short snouts and black scales, which makes them look like little Godzillas. These brightly colored crabs, grapsus grapsus, are found anywhere there' water on the islands. Galapagos is a nesting ground for sea turtles thanks to the rich warm equatorial waters. Sea lions are also nearly everywhere, often in the way of humans, even. Like here. And here. We saw about four different species of ray - but sorry, I don't know enough about which. This one had brilliant neon blue spots. Possibly an eagle ray? The tintoreras, or white-tipped sharks, sleep in big schools during the day among the narrow cracks in the volcanic rock. This guy was probably 6-7 feet long. Harmless, though, we were told. This lava lizard was soaking up some sun at the mouth of a volcanic vent. Meanwhile, this guy was hanging out a little closer to the beach at a tortoise breeding center. The blue-footed booby was among the hardest animals to spot, but the search was worth it. The blue coloring of their feet is an indicator of health, and they're used in attracting mates with a ridiculous bird dance. A brown pelican - not afraid of people, and super obnoxious, albeit beautiful. We had fun watching them try to steal fish as the fish market. Galapagos is famous for its finches, which illustrate the evolutionary effects of environment. This one, with a large, broad beak, snacks on a passion fruit. A juvenile yellow crowned night heron hides in the mangroves and looks for fish to snatch. These herons were nesting atop a mangrove patch near Las Tintoreras. Galapago yellow warblers were incredibly social birds - well, certainly around lunchtime when we had sandwiches out. They were fast little guys, though. Flamingos love the lagoons on the islands because they provide food and calm protection. I found the frigate birds a bit unnerving. Their cackling laugh sounds human, and their swooping flights look like a swarm of bats. It was, however, incredible to watch them dive for fish. Flying along, then suddenly, straight down as a harpoon into the ocean. The American oyster catcher has a slender red beak it uses to stab shellfish out of the sand and rocks. We watched these two tear into a crab on the beach. Penguins! The Galapagos penguin is the northern-most penguin in the world, and the only one to live in the northern hemisphere. They are also the second-smallest penguin in the world. Having no natural predators, they are not afraid of humans, and are happy to pose for a closeup. Some dive shots now - here's an eagle ray. This was the largest we saw - like a three-foot wingspan. I'm not sure what these little black and yellow fish are, but we saw hundreds of them while snorkeling. Possibly a yellow-tailed damselfish? This sea lion did circles around me for about a minute. Got the whole thing on video! This sea turtle came over to us while we were diving, too. He seemed pretty relaxed as we stared in awe through our goggles. That's all for now. Until next time, remember - adventure is out there!
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The tintoreras, or white-tipped sharks, sleep in big schools during the day among the narrow cracks in the volcanic rock. This guy was probably 6-7 feet long. Harmless, though, we were told.

Photo credits mostly to my wife Taylor. Also, a careful reminder: stay at least three feet away from all Galapagos wildlife. These are all unpredictable wild animals! The locals all seem to despise photographers because they can inadvertently cause harm to themselves and the animals trying to chase a shot. Hopefully this gallery shows you can get great shots while still respecting the delicate ecosystem.

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