Galapagos Big15 Iconic Species

The more iconic species you see on the Galapagos Islands, the more rewarding and memorable your experience will be!

Galapagos BIG15

When it comes to wildlife, no place on Earth compares to the Galapagos Islands

Lumbering giant tortoises and curious sea lion pups around found along dramatic volcanic landscapes, allowing you to get a sense of what it was like before humans emerged on the planet. The vast diversity of animal life is what attracts visitors to this remote paradise.

Because of the archipelago’s vastness, deciding where to go and what to observe throughout the islands can be quite a challenge. Upon tailoring our itineraries, and so as to allow our guests to absorb the best balance of Galapagos wildlife, we sought consensus among scholars, our Naturalist Guides, and island connoisseurs to choose the archipelago’s most unique and fascinating wildlife. The list that came from this resulted in our BIG15 group of iconic species in Galapagos.

This concept we created is one of the primary ways explorers can decide on the itinerary of their choice.

THESE ARE the most iconic species in the Galapagos

Blue-footed Booby

Flightless Cormorant

Waved Albatross

American Flamingo

Galapagos Fur Seal

Galapagos Hawk

Galapagos Penguin

Galapagos Sea Lion

Galapagos Giant Tortoise

Frigatebird (Great and Magnificent)

Land Iguana

Marine Iguana

Nazca Booby

Red-Footed Booby

Santa Fe Land Iguana

Nesting along the coast and frequently spotted on just about every island, you’ll be mesmerized by the stunning blues of their feet. The males whistle and the females honk!
Limited Distribution Species – Found only on Fernandina and the west coast of Isabela. The flightless or Galapagos cormorant is the world’s biggest and heaviest cormorant. It is also the only one that has lost its ability to fly. This has required adaptations: Uniquely, Galapagos cormorants have solid bones and feathers that have become fur-like and lack oil for lubrication.
One of the largest birds in the Galapagos that can only be found on Española Island, specifically during the Dry Season, as they are one of the few migratory birds here.
Considered by some an endemic subspecies to Galapagos, has a very small breeding population restricted to those islands where brackish lagoons have the ideal conditions for brine shrimp and small invertebrates: food for the flamingos. Males are slightly larger than females and juveniles lack the striking pink color in their plumage. Both parents raise a single chick by feeding it “crop milk”. They breed for the first time when they are five years old, generally in July.
The smallest of all seals, with females weighing just around 30kg (66lb) and males around 80kg (177 lb). Their ancestors arrived from the extreme southern tip of South America and they were able to adapt to tropical conditions by substantially modifying their feeding and reproductive strategies.
This is both the largest bird of prey and the top of the terrestrial food chain. Females are noticeably larger than males and may include various males in their territories, a strategy known as polyandry. Galapagos hawks can be seen in all main islands except in those with human settlements and on Genovesa, probably because of the absence of their key food, the lava lizard.
This endemic species of penguin can, on specific islands, be found torpedoing around the water or ambling along the rocky coasts. Bonus points if you get to snorkel alongside one!
Genetic research shows that the Galapagos sea lion is a separate species from its ancestor, the California sea lion. It is also much smaller. In length, it ranges from 150 to 250 cm (59 to 98 in). Males are much larger than females, weighing as much larger than females, weighing as much as 200 kg (440lb) while females show an average weight of 75 kg (166 lb). Currently, there are approximately 20,000 sea lions on the islands.
Massive yet incredibly slow, these spectacular creatures can weigh up to 550 pounds (250 kilograms)! In the Galapagos, you’ll get to see them ambling about the lush and green areas up in the highlands.
The so-called “Pirates of the Sea” that are often seen pursuing other birds and attempting to snatch their food away. The red, leathery pouch under the throat of males is striking to see when it’s inflated as part of its courtship display.
Play an important role as endemic resident herbivores: their largely vegetarian feeding habits are responsible for the dispersal of several plants. The Galapagos land iguana lives on several islands, making it the most widely distributed land iguana of the Galapagos.

Is one of the most amazing Galapagos species. For starters, the species can be found on all Galapagos Islands, but nowhere else. They arrived as terrestrial iguanas, later evolving into marine animals and then spreading throughout the archipelago. The marine iguana spends most of its life thermos-regulating near the waterline and feeds at low tide. They can be found on all the islands but nowhere els on Planet Earth.

Orriginally considerer a subspecies of the masked booby, is the largest of the three species of resident boobies. It prays on fish found between islands, thus avoiding competition with the other two species. Two large separate breeding populations are present in Genovesa and Española islands. However, foraging birds may be seen on most islands.
Limited distribution species. The booby with the largest population, the red-footed booby (Sula sula) is, ironically, the most rarely seen Galapagos booby because it feeds on the outskirts of the archipelago´s waters, leading its populations to nest on outlying islands such as Genovesa may be seen elsewhere. Its beak is light blue, turning to pink around the mouth, and its feet are characteristically red, while its plumage varies from white to brown.
Island Exclusive Species – Occurs only on Santa Fe Island, The Santa Fe Land Iguana, with smaller dorsal spines and a paler colour and tapered snout, lives only on little Santa Fe Island. Sporting colors that make it blend in perfectly with its environment, it is somewhat more difficult to observe than other land iguanas.

The big 15 map of iconic species in galapagos

The Galapagos Islands are supremely isolated and spread out over 17,000 square miles (45,000 square kilometers) of ocean. Due to the archipelago’s vastness, deciding where to go and what to observe in the archipelago can be quite a challenge.

But we’re here to help! Have a gander at our handy map that displays where, exactly, you’ll be able to spot the iconic wildlife of Galapagos that ignites your interest!

Map Flight Gps Eng


Questions? Need help deciding?

Have a chat with our Destination Experts that have enjoyed Yacht Isabela II’s itineraries!

Please select your country of residence*
Are you a direct customer?*
* I've read and accept Metropolitan Touring's privacy policies (i)
At METROPOLITAN TOURING we process the information you provide us with in order to respond to the request made by you in relation to the services we provide and the products we supply. You can exercise the rights of access, rectification and updating of inaccurate data or, where appropriate, request the deletion or elimination, limitation or suspension of the processing of your data or oppose the processing of your data. You can contact us at [email protected]

Galapagos Peguin Footer
Please select your country of residence*