Our Favorite Animals in the Galapagos

Updated August 10, 2020.

What’s the most memorable place you’ve ever visited? Or the place you want to visit more? For me, it’s the Galapagos. I had wanted to visit for years, but it always seemed out of reach. My sweet husband made my dream come true a few years ago, however, and it became one of our favorite trips to date! And why is that? It’s because of the unique, ancient, and unafraid animals who call the Galapagos home. Here are our favorites!

A note about animal experiences in the Galapagos: they are not afraid of people. Fear is a learned response, and because the animals on the Galapagos Islands are so dilligently protected, they do not know fear. Visitors to the islands have to visit with certified guides to ensure that the animals remain protected.
Here’s looking at you, cutie!
This means visitors must be responsible. There are some rules for their protection: People are not permitted to touch, antagonize, feed, or disturb the animals. If an animal approaches a person, that’s okay, but people are not to approach the animals. No flash photography is permitted at any time of day. For a complete list of rules, read this helpful article.

Blue-footed Boobies

These are a true favorite! There are very few truly blue shades that occur in nature, and the feet of these swimming and flying birds are unique in that way. I was fascinated with them for their blue feet, but then I learned about how they find food. They fly high in the air, then dive swiftly down into the water, swim deeper and deeper, and finally come back up to the surface with a fish in their mouth! It was such a funny thing to watch!

Also interesting about these birds is the fact that the males protect the eggs, and they make their nests on the ground instead of in trees. This makes their eggs and their young very susceptible to predators like dogs, which is why protecting these islands from invasive species is so important.

Just a daddy showing off his kids!
That’s the real color of their feet!
Profile view as he plots his next course of action.
Want more about blue-footed boobies (including how they got their name)? Check out the Galapagos Conservation Trust website.

Galapagos Fur Seal

One of the most special things we got to see in the Galapagos was a mother and fresh baby fur seal born just hours earlier. Our guide on Floreana had seen the birth just the night before, and he showed us where they were the next morning. It was so sweet! The Galapagos fur seals are the smallest of the eared seals, and while they are endangered, they can be seen on (or just offshore) all the islands.

Mother and Baby
Baby takes a snooze.
For more about the Galapagos fur seal, check out the Galapagos Conservation Trust website!


Galapagos flamingoes are actually North American flamingoes who flew here! That’s thousands of miles’ worth of flying. They’re pink because of the crustaceans they eat just like other flamingoes, and you can find them on Floreana, Santa Cruz, and Isabela islands!

Curvy is the new elegant.
Pink is the new black.
For more about the Galapagos flamingo, check out this helpful website!

Darwin Finches

There are thirteen species of Darwin finches in the Galapagos, but the yellow guy below is my favorite! There are different finches on different islands, and they are distinctive in color, beak shape, and more!

Yellow Darwin Finch!
Want to know more about Darwin finches? Check out the Galapagos Conservation Trust’s website!

Land Iguanas

Galapagos land iguanas went nearly extinct due to invasive species such as dogs, cats, rats, and pigs. The Darwin Research Station rescued the last 60 that existed in 1976, and in recent years over 1,000 land iguanas have been reintroduced into the wild! The islands’ health depends on the land iguanas, and you can find them on many of the islands today.

The perfect perch.
Always attentive.
For more about Galapagos land iguanas, check out the Galapagos Conservation website!

Marine Iguanas

Galapagos marine iguanas are the only seafaring lizards in the world! They feed on algae, and the larger ones can cling to rocks on the open ocean to feed despite strong currents. We saw them on all the islands we visited, sometimes in large groups and sometimes on their own. Their coloring ranges from black to red, and they can grow as long as 4.5 feet!

This cute guy found his perfect spot!
Marine iguanas turn red when they eat the red plankton they find under water!
Family gathering or block party? Not sure, but they look happy to be together!
We were a lot more impressed with them than they were with us!
Learn more about Galapagos marine iguanas at GalapagosConservation.org!


Did you that penguins live in the Galapagos, on both sides of the equator? It’s true! In fact, they are the only penguins found north of the equator. We got to swim and play with some (well, it’s more like they were playing with us!) while visiting Isabela Island. They’re tiny little guys (the smallest penguins in the world), and they are endangered.

Galapagos penguins are stealthy swimmers!
Do you see the four penguins on the lava rock?
A blue-footed booby watches his penguin friends swim!
For more about Galapagos penguins, check out WorldWilflife.org!

Giant Tortoises

These are perhaps the most well-known animals in the Galapagos, and they almost became extinct. In fact, some species have become extinct. Great efforts are being taken in the Galapagos to help the population get back to a healthy number, and we visited no fewer than four tortoise sanctuaries! Much to our delight, we also encountered several in the wild on the islands we visited.

Maybe my favorite photograph ever taken.
This one came over to say hello!
A little rain gives the shell a real shine!
These sweet babies are a little bit shy!
For more about Galapagos tortoises, please visit the Galapagos.org website!

Need more? Check out my Ecuador Page and What to Know Before You Visit the Galapagos for all our Galapagos adventures!

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3 responses to “Our Favorite Animals in the Galapagos”

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