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Photo of two flamingos wading (Galapagos animals images). Photo: Shawn Parker

Photo of a Galapagos giant tortoise (Galapagos animals images). Photo: UnCruise Adventures

Galapagos Wildlife

The Galapagos invite you to discover their unique species. Perhaps the most celebrated animal is the giant tortoise—14 species live on the islands. The name Galapagos comes from an old Spanish word for tortoises, which were found in the archipelago by Spanish sailors in the 1530s.

Sea urchins, brightly colored Sally Lightfoot crabs, sparkling bioluminescence, stunning whales … from the smallest to the largest sea creatures, the Galapagos draw an incredible number of marine species to its nutrient-rich waters. And don’t forget the birds! Of the many bird species native or migratory to the islands, a whopping 45 are endemic, meaning they are found only in the Galapagos.

UnCruise Adventures leads adventure-focused Galapagos wildlife cruises. On the seven islands and islets we visit, chances are high for ticking off 12 species on the “Big 15” list of the archipelago's most iconic animals. See Great and Magnificent frigatebirds, the Galapagos hawk, land and marine iguanas, giant tortoises, the Galapagos sea lion, and the Galapagos fur seal, all on large Isla Isabela. American flamingos feed in lagoons on Isla Floreana. Galapagos penguins live in caves and crevasses on the coasts of Floreana, Fernandina, and Isabela. Blue-footed and Nazca boobies nest on tiny Isla Rabida. What else will you meet strolling along a remote red sand beach? 

Galapagos Land Animals

  • Giant tortoise
  • Land iguana (pictured)
  • Marine iguana
  • Lava lizard
  • Hoary bat
  • Gecko
Photo of a land iguana (Galapagos animals images). Photo: Shawn Parker


Galapagos Marine Life

  • Green sea turtle
  • Sperm, pilot, humpback, and Brydes whales
  • Spinner, striped, and bottlenose dolphins
  • Galapagos sea lion (pictured) and fur seal
  • Angelfish, butterflyfish, and damselfish
  • White-tipped reef shark
  • Manta, spotted eagle, and golden rays
Close-up photo of a Galapagos sea lion (Galapagos animals images). Photo: UnCruise


Galapagos Birds

  • Blue-footed boobies (pictured)
  • Nazca boobies
  • 13 species of Darwin’s finch
  • Short-eared owl
  • Galapagos hawk
  • Galapagos petrel
  • Great and Magnificent frigatebirds
  • Galapagos penguin
  • Flamingo
  • Flightless cormorant
lue-footed booby feeding its chick (Galapagos animals images). Photo: Shawn Parker

Chart listing Galapagos Islands animals by month, according to when guests on Galapagos wildlife cruises are most likely to see them (UnCruise Adventures)

What's the best time to visit the  Galapagos to see wildlife? That depends on which animals are on your must-see list. Female green sea turtles lay their eggs on beaches from February through April. Blue-footed boobies spend the most time ashore in their mating season, especially between June and August. Some iconic species, like giant tortoises and land iguanas, can be watched year-round. 

Will your favorite wildlife encounter happen when you're snorkeling, paddling, on a skiff ride? Browse our Galapagos cruise activities to savor the possibilities.