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Galapagos Wildlife Guide

March 17, 2017
  |   Lori Goodwin
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People often ask us “When is the best time to go to the Islands?” Or “What is the best island for wildlife?”.  The short answer to this is that there is no ‘best time’ or ‘best ‘island’. Wildlife activity in the Galapagos varies throughout the year from island to island and is constantly changing.

From birds to marine to reptiles and mammals, this wildlife and island guide should help you sort out what, when and where. And as always, keep in mind that nothing in nature is guaranteed, including this guide. Animal breeding, migratory and behavior patterns can and do change based on food and weather conditions.

January

Land bird nesting begins. Marine iguanas on Espanola turn  bright colors for mating season. Green sea turtles begin egg laying. Giant tortoise eggs hatch.

February

Floreana Flamingos and marine iguanas on Santa Cruz nest. Penguins migrate from Bartholeme to cooler waters off Isabela and Fernandina.  Giant tortoise eggs are still hatching.

March

Marine iguanas nest on Fernandina and North Seymour.  Waved albatrosses return Española, Penguins are seen on Isabela island. Mating season for frigatebirds, red pouches on display on Genovesa and San Cristobal.

April

Waved albatrosses migrate in full to Española and begin courtship dancing.  Green sea turtle eggs start hatching. Mating dance of blue-footed boobies on North Seymour. Land iguana hatching on Isabela. Mating season for frigatebirds continues.

May

Waved albatross lay eggs on Española. Blue-footed boobies begin mating dances on North Seymour.  Band rumped storm petrels begin to nest.

June

Giant tortoises on Santa Cruz look for nesting sites in the lowlands.  Humpback whales seen June to September. Whale sharks gather in the far northwestern islands.

July

Whales and dolphins off the west coast of Isabela, whale sharks near Darwin and Wolf islands. Flightless cormorants court and nest on Fernandina. Sea bird colonies breeding. Blue footed booby chicks hatch. Flamingoes do mating dances. Frigatebird chicks start to hatch. 

August

Sea lions birth pups. Frigatebird chicks hatch. Flamingo courtship dances continue. Migrant shore birds are arriving. Courtship of Galapagos hawks, Santiago and Española. Nazca boobies nest on Genovesa. Whale sharks seen Wolf and Darwin islands. Humpback whales pass near.

September

Galapagos penguins court Bartolome.  Male sea lions battle over mating rights.  Sea bird nesting. Whale sharks still sighted at Darwin and Wolf islands.

October

Green sea turtles active in clearer waters. Galapagos fur seal mating season. Blue footed booby chicks on Isabela & Espanola. Whale sharks still sighted at Darwin and Wolf islands.

November

Sea lion pups plentiful and playful. Brown noddy breeding season. Band rumped storm petrels nest. Green sea turtle mating season begins. Red footed boobies breeding and nesting.

December

Giant tortoise eggs hatching until April. Waved albatross chicks fledge and the waved albatrosses leave the Galapagos, not to return until March.  Green sea turtles are mating.

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