The Galápagos Islands are home to some of the rarest animal species on earth.
You’ve probably heard of the Galapágos turtles. But they aren’t the only wildlife unique to the islands.
From birds to reptiles to marine life, the Galapágos Islands boast some of the highest percentages of species found only on these islands.
If you love beach adventures, the Galapagos also has beautiful beaches. Enjoy sun, sand, and ten of the most unique animals of the Galágapos Islands.
1. Floreana Mockingbird
The Floreana Mockingbird inhabits only on two small islands: Champion Islets to the east of Floreana and Gardner-by-Floreana.
These birds were the first mockingbird species described by Charles Darwin on his early voyages. The bird became extinct on its native island of Floreana over the next five decades.
Today, conservationists work to preserve the small population. They hope to reintroduce the Floreana Mockingbird to its home island of Floreana.
To learn more about Floreana, check out this blog.
2. Darwin’s Finches
This group of birds includes thirteen species of finches as part of Galápagos Islands wildlife.
Each species has a unique beak shape and size. These characteristics facilitate different feeding behavior for each species.
Because of these unique feeding behaviors, the thirteen species of Darwin’s Finches helped shaped Darwin’s theory of natural evolution.
3. Galápagos Batfish
This rare animal is also known as the Red-Lipped Batfish. It has a startingly-red set of red lips to go with an angry look on its face.
The Batfish is a terrible swimmer. You’ll find them walking along the bottom of the ocean at depths between 10 to 250 feet.
Using their dorsal fin, they lure prey like smaller fish and crustaceans for meals on the ocean floor.
4. Galápagos Fur Seal
These animals love laying in the sun on rocks near the water. But you won’t see them often.
Between diving in the water and staying away from beaches, they prefer to stay out of sight.
This species of Fur Seal is an expert at thermoregulation-the ability to regulate body temperature despite external temperatures.
5. Galápagos Penguins
If you spot a small group of penguins on Bartolomé and Fernandina islands, it’s probably the very rare Galápagos Penguin.
This is the only species of penguins found naturally in the Northern Hemisphere. And their numbers continue to decline.
6. Flightless Cormorant
The Flightless Cormorant is one of the world’s rarest birds found only on the Galápagos Islands.
Despite being a bird with feathers and wings, its wings are too small for flight.
Instead of flying, the Flightless Cormorant dives below the water’s surface looking for eels and fish. Because their wings aren’t waterproof, they spend a lot of time in the sun drying their feathers.
7. Galápagos Green Turtle
This species of sea turtle is the only one to nest and breed in the Galápagos Islands.
You might see these giant turtles swimming along the coastlines of the islands. Despite its size, the Green Turtle is a fast swimmer. It can move at speeds up to 35 mph in the open ocean.
If you visit the Galápagos Islands in May, you might see the turtle hatchlings scramble from the beaches to the sea.
8. Galápagos Pink Land Iguana
This iguana gets its name from its pink skin. Not only is it a different color, it’s actually a different type of land iguana from other species of land iguanas.
The Pink Land Iguana is a critically endangered species. There are only about 200 of these creatures left in the Galápagos.
These specific iguanas live only around Wolf Volcano on Isabella island–one of the most unique areas for wildlife among all of the Galápagos Islands.
9. Blue-footed Booby
These birds are best known for their funny mating dance.
They breed year-round. So, any time you visit the islands, you might see a mating dance or new baby Blue-footed Booby birds wandering around.
Males and females look identical to each other. But their pupils tell them apart. Male Blue-footed Boobies have small pupils. The females have large, dilated pupils.
10. Galapagos Sea Lion
Don’t confuse this animal with the Galápagos Fur Seal. The Galápagos Sea Lion is a much larger creature.
It’s the largest animal you’ll find in the Galápagos Islands. And it’s a tourist favorite.
You’ll often find these sea lions lounging on benches and docks where cruise ships bring their tourists. They are curious creatures. And with a playful nature, they can seem safe to approach.
But be careful. Sea lions are wild animals. You never know when they could react to too much human interaction.
They are better to watch from a distance on land or underwater during a snorkeling adventure.
Protecting the Animals of the Galápagos
Because the Galápagos Islands host so many endemic and endangered species, significant effort goes into protecting the animals of the Galápagos.
Over time, natural predators, curious humans, and changing weather conditions have reduced the numbers of unique animal species on the Galápagos islands. Conservancy efforts help grow smaller populations of animals into more sustainable sizes.
You’ll also find restoration efforts. For some species that are near extinction or that have gone extinct on the islands, conservationists work to breed these species off-island.
Once new groups of animals are healthy, they return to their former island homes in gradual ways.
Visit the Galápagos With Care
Visit the animals of the Galápagos with care. Plan a trip that minimizes your impact on the ecology.
Sustainable tourism is a way to conserve the resources you use and use local help. While taking advantage of what locals provide, be sure you see all of the unique wildlife the islands have to offer.
But if a wildlife trip to the Galápagos isn’t your speed, maybe a road trip to see America’s wildlife is what you need. Check out our article on the best cargo vans to carry you cross-country on a wildlife adventure.