Most nature lovers who embark on wildlife holidays in Galapagos are familiar with the archipelago’s most iconic wildlife species, which include the Giant Tortoise, the Lava Lizard, the Marine Iguana, the Galapagos Sea Lion, and the Blue-Footed Booby. But while the wildlife has been studied and documented extensively, there are also some lesser-known facts about these wonderfully unique species. For anyone planning wildlife holidays in the Galapagos, knowing a few of these before the trip may add another dimension to an already fascinating encounter. Did You Know, The Marine Iguana found in abundance throughout the archipelago is the world’s only species of marine lizard?
The white appearance often seen around their faces is caused by the expulsion of salt from specially adapted glands in their nostrils, which dries and creates a “wig” effect. The Galapagos Penguin is the smallest in the world and the only one found north of the Equator. The combination of the cold waters of the Humboldt and Cromwell ocean currents means it is able to survive in a warmer climate. With an average life span of well over a century, the Giant Tortoise lives longer than almost any other vertebrate on the planet. They continue to grow for up to 40 years and can reach a length of over 1.5m and a weight of up to 250kg.
The most common of all the mammals throughout the islands is the sea lion. The chance to swim and snorkel amongst the curious sea lions is also one of the most sought-after encounters on wildlife holidays in the Galapagos. Particularly large colonies are found in Santa Cruz, Isabela, and Espanola. The Green Sea Turtle found in the waters around the archipelago is a species so old it has been around since before the time of the dinosaurs. There are five species of snakes and all of them are endemic to the dry zones of certain islands – although some islands have none.