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Galápagos Wildlife Guide

As spectacular as the waters, islands and beaches of Galápagos are, there is no doubt about what visitors have come to see: the animals. Because the archipelago was undiscovered by man until very recently, the endemic species of Galápagos never learned to fear humans, as animals and birds did in every other corner of the globe. In other words, the animals on the islands see the lumbering hairless monkeys that smell like sunscreen, but do not identify them as something predatory or dangerous. For this reason, you can get very close to them before they spook and run away.

Some animals are more skittish than others: migratory birdsFlamingo, including many of the shore birds, will not let you get too close, because they’ve encountered mankind in other parts of the world. Other animals, like marine iguanas, barely seem to notice you at all: many careless travelers have accidentally stepped on them: they can blend right in with the black lava rocks! The sea lions will let you get fairly close, as will most of the sea and land birds, but watch out! Get too close, and a sea lion or booby will give you a good nip!

There are several species of Galápagos reptiles, including the giant tortoises, marine iguanas and land iguanas. There are very few native mammals in Galápagos, the most noteworthy of which is the Galápagos Sea Lion.

There are many birds in Galapagos, which are easily divided into categories. Land birds are those that generally are seen inland, or who feed on land. Some endemic Galápagos land birds include the Galápagos Hawk and the different Darwin’s finches. Shore birds may nest farther inland, but they are most commonly seen along the shoreline and in tidal pools and mangroves where they feed. One endemic Galápagos shore bird is the Lava Heron. Sea birds nest on land but feed exclusively on fish, squid and other marine life.

The marine life in Galapagos is most impressive, and the snorkeling and diving in the islands is world-class. There are many different fish, sharks and rays that are easily spotted and identified.

Unfortunately, not all of the wildlife in Galapagos belongs there. Introduced species remain a major ecological problem, although scientists and park rangers are dedicated to removing them.

Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to The Galápagos Islands: Bravo Clinid, Galápagos Ecotourism and Management, Blue-Footed Booby, Nazca Booby, Planning your Galapagos Trip, Recommended Reading List, Galápagos Giant Tortoise, Punta Cormorant - Floreana Visitor Site, Red-Billed Tropicbird and Herons and Egrets in the Galapagos.

By Christopher Minster
I am a writer and editor at V!VA Travel guides here in Quito, where I specialize in adding quality content to the site and also in spooky things like...
21 Aug 2010

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