Galapagos Islands Animals: 20 Iconic & Bizarre Creatures

Galapagos Islands Brown Pelicans and Blue-Footed Boobies

The Galapagos Islands are undoubtedly one of the most spectacular destinations for nature lovers worldwide. Nestled off the shores of Ecuador, these remote volcanic islands have mesmerized the world for centuries, thanks to their unmatched and exceptional wildlife. With an astounding variety of endemic species found nowhere else on the planet, the Galapagos have become a haven for biologists, naturalists, and wildlife enthusiasts alike.

These islands were brought to the forefront by the legendary Charles Darwin, who sailed to the archipelago in 1835 on the HMS Beagle. Darwin’s discoveries of the diverse and peculiar wildlife of the Galapagos played an integral part in the formulation of his theory of evolution. Even today, the Galapagos continue to serve as an active laboratory for evolutionary biology.

The Galapagos Islands offer an unforgettable experience, allowing visitors to witness a range of fascinating creatures from giant tortoises to marine iguanas, blue-footed boobies to flightless cormorants. The wildlife of the Galapagos is a true marvel of the natural world, with their unique adaptations, striking appearances, and captivating behaviors.

Here are 20 unique species that are sure to pique your interest, and get you excited to visit the archipelago:

Marine Iguana

The marine iguana is a true wonder of the Galapagos Islands. These fascinating creatures are unlike any other iguana species in the world. As the only marine lizard in the world, they can hold their breath for up to 45 minutes at a time. These incredible reptiles have become experts at foraging in the harsh marine environment, using their sharp claws and flattened tails to navigate the rocks and dive up to 30 feet deep in search of food.

Galapagos Giant Tortoise

If there’s one animal that symbolizes the Galapagos Islands, it’s the giant tortoise. These ancient creatures have roamed the rugged terrain of these islands for millions of years, evolving unique adaptations to survive in this harsh environment. With their thick, scaly skin and slow, lumbering gait, they seem like relics from a bygone era. But don’t be fooled by their sluggish appearance; these massive reptiles are surprisingly agile and can move quickly when they need to. They’re also incredibly long-lived, with some individuals living for over a century. Seeing a Galapagos giant tortoise in the wild is a truly unforgettable experience that reminds us of the incredible diversity and resilience of the natural world.

Blue-Footed Boobies

The Galapagos Islands are home to a myriad of fascinating wildlife, but none quite capture the imagination like the blue footed boobies. These enchanting birds are instantly recognizable thanks to their electric blue feet, which they use to signal to potential mates during courtship rituals. But beyond their striking appearance, blue footed boobies are also renowned for their agile hunting skills. Diving from up to 80 feet in the air, they can reach speeds of up to 60 miles per hour as they swoop down to snag fish from the water. It’s no wonder these captivating creatures have become a beloved symbol of the Galapagos Islands and a must-see for any nature lover.

Galapagos Land Iguana

The Galapagos Islands Land Iguana is a remarkable reptile species native to the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador. It is known for its impressive size and vibrant coloration, with shades of yellow, orange, and brown. Land iguanas are herbivorous creatures, primarily feeding on cacti and other vegetation found on the islands. They have a distinct appearance with a stocky body, spiky dorsal scales, and a crest of spines on their head. These iguanas play a crucial role in the ecosystem as seed dispersers, aiding in the island’s vegetation growth. The Galapagos Islands Land Iguana is an iconic symbol of the unique biodiversity found in this archipelago and continues to captivate visitors with its striking appearance and ecological significance.

Flightless Cormorant

The Flightless Cormorant is a unique bird species found only in the Galapagos Islands. As their name suggests, these birds are unable to fly due to their small wings and heavy bodies. Instead, they have evolved to become exceptional swimmers and divers, using their strong legs and webbed feet to propel themselves underwater in search of fish. Despite their flightlessness, the Flightless Cormorant has managed to thrive in its isolated environment, with a population estimated at around 2,000 individuals. These fascinating creatures are a testament to the adaptability and resilience of nature, and a reminder that there is beauty to be found in all forms of life.

Darwin’s Finches

When we think of the theory of evolution, we often picture Charles Darwin and his famous study of the Galapagos Islands. One of the most fascinating aspects of this study is the group of birds known as Darwin’s Finches. These tiny birds have a big impact on our understanding of how species can adapt and evolve over time. Each species of finch has a unique beak shape that allows it to access different types of food. For example, one species has a long, thin beak for probing into flowers, while another has a strong, thick beak for cracking open nuts. By observing these finches, Darwin was able to develop his groundbreaking theory of natural selection and the idea that life on Earth is constantly changing and adapting.


Frigatebirds are the kings of the sky in the Galapagos Islands. These majestic birds have an impressive wingspan of up to eight feet and are known for their aerial acrobatics. With their long and pointed wings, they can soar for hours without flapping, using thermal currents to stay aloft. Frigatebirds are also famous for their unique mating ritual, where males inflate a bright red throat pouch to attract a mate. These birds are true survivors, adapting to life on remote islands where food and water are scarce. The Galapagos Frigatebirds are a true wonder of nature, and a must-see for any wildlife enthusiast.

Sally Lightfoot Crabs

These vibrant crustaceans are truly a sight to behold. Known for their bright red, orange, and yellow coloring, Sally Lightfoot Crabs can be found scurrying along the rocks and beaches of the Galapagos Islands. These creatures are incredibly agile and can move quickly across even the most uneven surfaces. Watching them navigate the rocky terrain is a true spectacle. With their unique appearance and impressive athleticism, it’s no wonder that Sally Lightfoot Crabs have become such a beloved symbol of the Galapagos Islands.

Waved Albatross

The Waved Albatross is truly a sight to behold in the Galapagos Islands. These majestic birds spend most of their lives at sea, but return to the islands each year to mate and raise their young. During their breeding season, they perform a spectacular dance, where they bow and preen each other while clacking their bills together. The Waved Albatross is also known for its unique wing pattern, which appears as a series of waves when the bird is in flight.

Galapagos Sea Turtle

The Galapagos Sea Turtle is a fascinating creature that captures the imagination of all who encounter it. These turtles are known for their distinctive appearance, with their olive-green or black shells and large, paddle-like flippers. They are also renowned for their gentle nature and curious behavior, which makes them a delight to observe in the wild. The Galapagos Sea Turtle is an important part of the marine ecosystem in the Galapagos Islands, serving as a source of food for predators like sharks and contributing to the overall biodiversity of the region.

Galapagos Lava Lizard

The Galapagos Lava Lizard, a species endemic to the Galapagos Islands, is a fascinating reptile that has adapted to survive in harsh volcanic landscapes. These lizards are known for their unique colors, with males displaying bright hues of red, orange, and black during the breeding season to attract mates. They are also excellent climbers and can be found sunbathing on rocks or scurrying across the rough terrain. With a diet consisting of insects and other small prey,

Galapagos Sea Lions

The Galapagos Sea Lions are one of the most fascinating and unique creatures on the planet. These playful creatures are found throughout the Galapagos Islands, where they bask in the sun on the rocky shores and swim in the crystal-clear waters of the Pacific Ocean. With their huge, dark eyes and long, sleek bodies, Galapagos Sea Lions are a sight to behold. They are incredibly social creatures, and it is not uncommon to see them interacting with each other and with humans who visit their habitat. Whether you are a nature lover, an animal enthusiast or simply someone who appreciates the beauty of the natural world, the Galapagos Sea Lions are sure to capture your heart.

Galapagos Penguin

The Galapagos Penguin is a true icon of the Galapagos Islands, with its distinctive black and white feathers and charming personality. These penguins are one of the smallest species of penguin in the world, but they make up for their size with their remarkable adaptability. Unlike other penguins, the Galapagos Penguin is able to survive in warm water temperatures by utilizing a range of behavioral adaptations, such as seeking shade and panting to cool down.

Nazca Booby

Nazca boobies are a species of seabird that can be spotted along the Pacific coast of South America and the Galapagos Islands. Their striking white plumage is characterized by black feathers on their tails. The males can easily be identified by their yellow or orange beaks, while the females have paler beaks with a pinkish tinge. Although often mistaken for masked boobies, Nazca boobies boast a larger size, a distinct difference in bill color, and a broader breeding range.

Red-Footed Booby

The Red-Footed Booby is a fascinating bird that can be found in the Galapagos Islands, along with other tropical regions across the globe. This unique creature is known for its vibrant red feet and blue-gray plumage, which make it a stunning sight to behold. Red-Footed Boobies can be observed diving into the ocean from great heights to catch fish, showing off their impressive aerial abilities. These birds are also skilled hunters, using their keen eyesight to spot prey from above. Whether you’re a bird lover or just appreciate the natural beauty of the Galapagos Islands, the Red-Footed Booby is definitely a creature worth learning more about.

Galapagos Hawk

The Galapagos Hawk is a fascinating creature that epitomizes the rugged beauty of the Galapagos Islands. This bird of prey is one of the few apex predators on the islands and plays a vital role in maintaining ecological balance. The hawk’s keen eyesight and agile movements make it a formidable hunter, and its diet consists of small animals such as rodents, lizards, and insects. Despite facing threats such as habitat loss and invasive species, the Galapagos Hawk has managed to survive in its isolated island home. Its presence is a testament to the incredible adaptability and resilience of nature.

Galapagos Flamingo

The Galapagos Flamingo is a true survivor, adapting to the extreme conditions of the Galapagos Islands to become one of the most unique bird species in the world. These birds have long, slender legs that allow them to wade through the shallow waters of the island’s lagoons, searching for their next meal. Their beaks are perfectly designed for their diet of shrimp and other small aquatic creatures, and their feathers are a stunning pink hue that sets them apart from other flamingo species. The Galapagos Flamingo is also a master of balance, often standing on one leg for extended periods to conserve energy.

Hammerhead Shark

The Galapagos Islands are home to a diverse range of marine life, but the Hammerhead Shark is one of the most intriguing species that inhabits the area. With their distinctively shaped heads, these sharks are instantly recognizable and are known for their exceptional hunting skills. The Galapagos Hammerhead Shark’s unique ability to detect electric fields allows it to locate prey with incredible accuracy, making it one of the most efficient predators in the region. These sharks are also capable of swimming in large schools, which is a remarkable sight to see for anyone exploring the Galapagos waters.

Galapagos Shark

The Galapagos Shark is one of the most mysterious and awe-inspiring creatures in the ocean. They are known for their distinctive appearance, with a long, slender body and a pointed snout that gives them a fierce and predatory look. These sharks can grow up to 3.7 meters in length and are found in the warm waters of the Galapagos Islands, where they hunt for fish and other marine creatures. Despite their fearsome appearance, Galapagos Sharks are not typically considered dangerous to humans, as they tend to avoid conflict and only attack when threatened.

Whale Shark

When you think of the Galapagos Islands, its common to think of giant tortoises or blue-footed boobies, but did you know that the Whale Shark is also a resident of these islands? These magnificent creatures can be found swimming in the remote waters surrounding the archipelago year-round, making them one of the most sought-after attractions for divers as well as the occasional surprise to snorkelers. The Galapagos Whale Shark is a peaceful behemoth that feeds on plankton and small fish, making it harmless to humans. Swimming alongside one of these gentle giants is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that is sure to leave you in awe.
For extra insight to wildlife viewing, as well as land activities, do not hesitate to reach out to one of our destination experts at Ecuador Unlimited. We are here to assist with finding your ideal Galapagos Islands cruise or land-based visit.