The Galapagos’ Islands are home to a multitude of species, many of which are endemic and so can’t be found anywhere else in the world.
Starting with the Galapagos’ most famous resident the Galapagos Giant Tortoise. There are currently ten subspecies of Giant Tortoise. The 11th subspecies’ final individual “Lonesome George” died in June 2016. They are best viewed on the islands of Isabela, Santiago, Pinzon and Santa Cruz. All 10 subspecies are now classed as Endangered, Critically Endangered or Extinct in the Wild by the IUCN Red List.
Perhaps the other most famous residents of the Galapagos are its finches, made famous as Darwin’s Finches and in his research into evolution. There are lots of endemic species of finch on the islands, such as the Ground Finches, Vegetarian Finch and the Tree Finches among others. The finches can be viewed on all the islands depending on which species you are looking for. Luckily, the majority of the Galapagos finches are not threatened of facing any major threats to their numbers.
Moving onto more marine animals. The Galapagos has its own species of penguin, which is one of the smallest species of penguin in the world; and is the only penguin to breed entirely within the tropics. The Galapagos penguins are best viewed on the islands of Santiago, Bartolome, Isabela and Fernandina. Unfortunately, these penguins are facing issues such as introduced species hunting them, oil spills are other human made issues.
Penguins aren’t the other marine animal that the Galapagos has its own species of. They are also home to the Galapagos shark. These sharks are best viewed around the islands of Floreana and San Cristobal. They are silverly-grey shark with a light underbelly. Humans bait-fishing activities are causing problems for these sharks and their populations are in decline.
Along with the Galapagos shark, the islands are also home to several other shark species such as the Hammerhead sharks and the Whale Shark, which can all be viewed off the coasts of the islands.
One of the biggest draws to the Galapagos islands is for diving wishing to see Manta Rays in all their glory. Mantas are the largest of the rays and are extremely widespread in the Galapagos waters.
The Galapagos also has its fair share of marine mammals. The islands are home to the endemic Galapagos sea lion and the Galapagos fur seal. The sea lions pups are often seen swimming with humans due to their curious nature. The sea lions make their home alone the coasts of the islands. However, the fur seals are much shier and make their home on the rocky shores of the islands.
The waters around the Galapagos islands are also filled with many marine mammals, some are merely visitors, but some are now considered residents.