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Brimming with wildlife you would only otherwise see on the TV, Galapagos cruises bring you face to face with the islands natural wonder.

The Galápagos Islands is awe-inspiring biodiversity

You are guaranteed wonderful wildlife experiences no matter what time of year you travel to the Galapagos. The Galapagos are a year-round destination due to their location along the Equator; therefore, the differences lay mostly in the animals that can be spotted and their behavior. However, there are certain times of the year when particular animals are more active than others so if you have a list of wildlife that you simply have to see then it is a good idea to plan your trip accordingly. Below you will find our Galapagos wildlife calendar with details of which animals take the spotlight each month and where best to find them.

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JANUARY

• Beginning of the rainy season
• Land birds start nesting, generally after the first rain
• On Hood (Española) Island adult marine iguanas become very bright coloured, ranging from red and orange to even green and purple!
• The green sea turtles arrive to beaches in the Galapagos for egg laying period
• Land iguanas begin reproductive cycles on Isabela Island
• Both, water and air temperatures rise and stay warm until June
• Ideal time for snorkeling

FEBRUARY

• On Floreana Island greater flamingos start nesting
• Bahama pintail ducks (Black-tailed pintail) start their breeding season
• Nazca (masked) boobies on Hood are at the end of their nesting season
• Marine iguanas nest on Santa Cruz Island
• The highest water temperature reaches 25C (77F). This temperature remains constant until April
• Very few penguins are sighted at Bartolome Island (most have followed the cool waters back to the west or near upwelling areas)
• Nesting season of the Galapagos dove reaches its peak

MARCH

• The rainy season reaches the highest precipitation (this does not mean it rains everyday)
• Sporadic tropical rains, intense sun and hot climate. Air temperature can reach up to 30C (86F). Humidity is high.
• Marine iguanas nest on Fernandina
• 21st March, the beginning of the summer equinox signals the arrival of the waved albatross to Española
• Even the western islands have warm waters where snorkeling is excellent. Punta Vicente Roca (Isabela) can be an amazing site. Penguins still active in the water, next to tropical fish! (How bizarre!)
• Some shores, specially those facing the north side, can receive deep surge (ola de fondo) coming from the northern currents. Wet landings at places like Puerto Egas, Gardner Bay, Bartolome can sometimes be a challenge
• It is the perfect time for snorkeling, marine life is very active.

APRIL

• Massive arrival of waved albatrosses to Española. Amazing courtship starts
• End of hatching season of the giant tortoises
• The First sea lion pups are born
• Frigatebird chicks begin to hatch
• Good visibility in the water for snorkelers
• Perhaps, together with May, the best months in Galapagos (weather, animals, water temperature)

MAY

• North Seymour’s blue-footed boobies begin their courtship
• Sea turtles are still hatching on Gardner Bay, Punta Cormorant, and Puerto Egas
• Most of marine iguanas’ eggs hatch from nests on Santa Cruz
• Palo santo trees begin to shed their foliage
• Waved albatross on Española start laying their eggs
• Ban-rumped storm petrels begin their first nesting period

JUNE

• Beginning of the garúa season
• Giant tortoises on Santa Cruz Island migrate from the highlands to the lowlands in search of suitable nesting places
• South east trade winds return. Currents become a bit stronger. Seas pick up in surge and wave action.
• Southern migrants have started their journey towards the north. Galapagos is a rest stop for such birds. Some species of cetaceans also follow this pattern of migration.
• Humpback whales can be seen passing through.

JULY

• Sea bird communities are very active (breeding), specially the Blue footed boobies on Española
• Flightless cormorants perform beautiful courtship rituals and nesting activities on Fernandina
• Along the shores of Puerto Egas (Santiago Island) you could find American oystercatchers nesting
• Lava lizards initiate mating rituals until November
• Whales & dolphins are more likely to be observed, especially off the western coast of Isabela
• Great month to see the four stages of nesting in Blue footed boobies: eggs, chicks, juveniles & subadults
• Water temperature does not reach more than 21C (68F)

AUGUST

August
• Galapagos hawks court on Española and Santiago
• Nazca (masked) boobies and Swallow-tailed gulls nest on Genovesa Island
• The temperature of the ocean drops to 18C (64F), which obviously varies according to the geographic zones among the islands
• Migrant shore birds start to arrive, and stay on the islands until March
• Giant tortoises return to the highlands of Santa Cruz
• Oceans are quite choppy, currents at the strongest levels, surge can be expected along the shores that face west or south
• Pupping season (births) of sea lions has started. Western and central islands are common places for such sightings.

SEPTEMBER

• Peak of the cold (garúa) season
• The air temperature reaches its lowest levels (19C-66F)
• Galapagos Penguins show remarkable activity on Bartolome
• Since May swimmers and snorkelers can be delighted at Bartolome with penguins active at the surface or torpedo-like while underwater
• Sea lions are very active. Females have reached estrus stage, and so harem-gathering males are constantly barking and fighting. Shore fighting is heavy
• Baby sea lions are very playful and active; an amazing sight
• Most species of sea birds remain quite active at their nesting sites.

OCTOBER

• Lava herons start nesting until March
• The Galapagos Fur Seals (subspecies of Sea lions) begin their mating period
• Blue footed boobies raise chicks all over Española and Punta Vicente Roca (Isabela)
• Giant tortoises are still laying eggs
• Days are not always sunny. Garúa can be expected in most locations, except the western islands where most days have a misty start but after few hours of daylight it burns off
• Sunrises in the west can be quite beautiful after the garúa covers only certain locations of the western volcanoes
• Summits are clear, but low-lying fog covers the shoreline.

NOVEMBER

• Pupping of sea lions continue
• Sea lions are sexually active on the eastern part of the archipelago
• Breeding season for the brown noddies
• Some species of jellyfish can be seen around the islands
• The genus Physalia is commonly seen floating around Gardner and Tortuga Islets. Some can also be seen stranded at the shores of the Flour Beach at Floreana
• Band-rumped storm petrels begin their second nesting period
• Seas are calm. South east trade winds have decreased strength. Water temperatures are slowly rising
• Generally great weather due to transition between one season and the next one
• Good visibility for snorkelers
• Sea lion pups (specially at Champion Islet) play aqua-aerobics next to snorkelers. Most pups here are curious enough to nibble at fins of snorkelers. The average age of most pups is 3-4 months
• Spot whale sharks at the north-western Islands.

DECEMBER

• Hatching of giant tortoise’s eggs begins and lasts until April
• Green sea turtles display their mating behavior
• The rainy season begins, all of the plants of the dry zone produce leaves. Galapagos becomes “green”
• The first young waved albatrosses fledge
• Birds start migrating to the south
• Great weather

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