Animals that live on the Galapagos Islands
Galapagos Giant Tortoise. Ecoventura
Story and Images Courtesy of Ecoventura, www.ecoventura.com
Over the 2008 Galapagos Islands eco-cruise season, Ecoventura's six naturalist guides asked each guest at the end of their trip to identify their top five wildlife encounters. Over 3, 000 guests participated in the polling. Comments and results were tabulated at the end of the season and in March 2009 the wildlife "winners" were announced. Four exotic birds and a giant tortoise made the final cut.
With 27 species of reptiles, 29 types of land birds, 19 different sea birds and dozens of land and marine mammals, there must have been pretty tough competition. Here is some information about each of the Favorite Five:
Red-footed Booby (Sula Sula Websteri) – With their distinctive red legs and feet and a bill and throat pouch colored pink and blue, the smallest of the three Galapagos boobies is best seen on the northern Island of Genovesa (Tower) where over 100, 000 come to nest in the trees. Their elaborate greeting rituals include harsh squawks and the male’s display of his blue throat. They are powerful and agile fliers, but clumsy in takeoffs and landings. Red-footed Boobies are spectacular divers, plunging into the ocean at high speeds to catch prey, mainly small fish and squid. Only vessels carrying 36 passengers or less are allowed under National Park guidelines to visit Tower Island where bird-loving guests also may spot such species as the Great Frigate, Nazca Booby, Red-billed Tropic, Lava Gull, Storm Petrels and Short-eared Owl.Red Footed Booby.
Flightless Cormorant (Nannopterum Harrisi) featured in the movie Master & Commander is the only grounded cormorant in the world, having lost its ability to fly. It is found on the western-most island of Fernandina and is endemic to Galapagos. They swim to hunt for food and do an aquatic dance while mating. Nesting takes place on the beach, just above the water line and the nests are made from flotsam and jetsam, held together by seaweed. Uncharacteristic of Galapagos sea birds, the flightless cormorant does not mate for life. In fact, after the eggs are...