Species Endemic to the Galapagos Islands
A wildlife enthusiastís dream, the remote Galapagos Islands off the Ecuadorian Coast, is a wonderful natural laboratory to catch a glimpse of evolution in action. These tiny volcanic island believed to be around 5 million years old are home to some of the most amazing and unique wildlife in the world. And while the number of animal, bird and reptile species here are rather small, what makes this island chain so special and incredible is the fantastic diversity that is found here, which is truly mind boggling. One of the reasons for this diversity is the lack of larger natural predators which make these animals somewhat fearless, even when they are faced with human visitors.
Today it is estimated that there are as many as 26 endemic species of birds and other unique creatures that have made their homes in the Galapagos, including the Giant Tortoises, Marine Iguanas, Darwinís Finches and Boobies. The wildlife here is not only fascinating to watch, but offer wonderful opportunities to study.
Of the 58 species of birds found in the Galapagos Islands 28 of them are endemic, while the other 30 are migratory birds that come here during colder climates from the northern hemisphere. When touring the islands any time of the year, an avid birdwatcher can sometimes spot up to 40 species of birds. Perhaps the most famous of the Galapagosí bird residents are Darwinís finches, of which there are 13 species found here including; the large cactus finch, the warbler finch, the mangrove finch, and the woodpecker finch.
Some other endemic birds include the Galapagos hawk, the large billed Galapagos flycatcher, the Galapagos mockingbird, the yellow warbler, the barn owl, the dark-billed cuckoo, the flightless cormorant, the Galapagos penguin, the waved albatross, the red-billed tropicbird, the swallow-tailed gull, the lava gull, the brown pelican, storm petrels and the lava heron. Although not endemic, Boobies are a common sight in the Galapagos as well.
The most famous reptiles of the Galapagos Islands are the giant tortoises or the Galapagosí themselves. With 14 subspecies, of which 3 are extinct, these amazing reptiles can sometimes weight up to 250 kg. The Pacific green sea turtle is the only marine turtle, endemic to the Galapagos.
Another endemic reptilian species are the iguanas. The marine iguana, the Santa Fe land iguana and the Galapagos land iguana are all endemic to the region.
Out of the 400 plus species of fish found in and around the Galapagos coast 50 are endemic and offer some amazing snorkeling or scuba diving adventures. Aside from the blue-eyed damselfish, the Moorish idols, the hieroglyphic hawkfish and the white banded angelfish, some other endemic fish here include the Galapagos shark, the white-tipped reef shark, stingrays, and the mustard ray.
Not many mammals are endemic to the Galapagos; there are just 2 species of seals, two species of bats and two species of rice rats found here. The Galapagos sea lion and the Galapagos fur seal are a treat to see, while a cruise around the islands will introduce you to schools of whales and dolphins that swim in and around the region.