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Know Before You Go

Galapagos Wildlife Seasonality | Month-By-Month Guide

Wildlife sightings fluctuate over the seasons, but highlights occur throughout the year because abundant wildlife is always present in the Galapagos Islands. Due to the archipelago's equatorial location and unusual oceanographic conditions, the presence of wildlife and mating behavior are most closely connected to the productivity of the ocean rather than the seasons. Rest assured that year-round residents like the Galapagos penguin, blue-footed booby, marine and land iguanas, giant tortoise, flightless cormorant, Galapagos hawk and sea lions do not migrate and will always be on view. 

All the Galapagos seabirds are seen year-round except for the albatross, which is absent from January to March. Because birds breed at different times, you can witness courting behavior or hatchlings in nests during any given month. A variety of whale and dolphin species visit the Galapagos throughout the year, from the smallest common and bottlenose dolphins to the largest blue whales, as well as orca, pilot, sperm, humpback and other whale species.

Wildlife: Month-by-Month


Year-round
  • red-footed boobies and masked boobies, breeding and nesting
  • flightless cormorants, penguins and greater flamingos, breeding and nesting
  • magnificent and great frigate birds, nesting

January
  • Darwin’s finches and other land birds begin nesting
  • marine iguanas turn bright green and red colors on Española
  • Pacific green sea turtles begin laying eggs, nesting through March

February
  • Bahamas pintail ducks begin breeding
  • flamingos begin nesting
  • Galapagos doves at nesting peak
  • penguins migrate away from Bartolome to cooler waters off Isabela and Fernandina

March
  • Galapagos giant tortoises begin migrating to lower terrain and nesting sites
  • red-footed booby chicks on Genovesa
  • marine iguanas begin nesting on Fernandina
  • waved albatross begin arriving after the spring equinox

April
  • waved albatross arrive on Española in huge numbers, begin courtship
  • Pacific green sea turtle hatching begins (through June)
  • Galapagos land iguana hatchlings appear
  • brown pelicans begin nesting at Tagus Cove (through May)
  • blue-footed boobies begin courtship on North Seymour (through May)
  • Pacific green sea turtles present in large numbers on Isabela and Fernandina (through November)

May
  • marine iguana hatchlings emerge from nests at Fernandina
  • Galapagos snakes, hawks and great blue herons hunt baby marine iguanas on Fernandina
  • large flocks of Galapagos shearwaters appear
  • waved albatross mate and lay eggs on Española
  • wedge rump storm petrels begin nesting on Genovesa

June
  • waved albatross nesting, first chicks appear
  • humpback whale sightings begin (through September)
  • blue-footed boobies, nesting (through November)
  • Bryde’s whale sightings near Kicker Rock (through November)
  • whale and dolphins throughout the archipelago (through November)

July
  • waved albatross nesting continues, prime time to see chicks
  • Galapagos giant tortoise start migration back to Santa Cruz highlands
  • American oystercatchers, nesting
  • common gallinules, nesting

August
  • Galapagos sea lion pups appear
  • Galapagos hawks court on Espanola, Santiago and Fernandina
  • swallow-tailed gulls at nesting peak on Genovesa
  • abundant Galapagos giant tortoise in Santa Cruz highlands (until March)

September
  • Galapagos hawks, nesting (through October)
  • Galapagos sea lions, birth and breeding season (through December)
  • Penguins begin courtship and are especially active on Bartolome
  • most seabirds found at nesting sites

October
  • lava herons, nesting
  • fur seal, breeding (through December)
  • giant tortoises begin laying eggs on Santa Cruz (through November)
  • blue-footed booby chicks appear

November
  • brown noddy terns, breeding
  • wedge rump storm petrels begin second nesting season
  • sea lion pups are more curious
  • Pacific green sea turtles mating and active in water

December
  • waved albatross fledglings appear and begin departing
  • marine iguanas begin mating (through February)
  • Galapagos sea lion pups abundant in water at central and southern islands (through February)
  • giant Galapagos tortoise laying eggs (through March)
  • Bryde’s whale on the western archipelago (through May)
  • bottlenose and common dolphin in central and southern archipelago (through May)


Wildlife Highlights & Where to Find Them


See The Wildlife of the Galapagos Year-Round on These Cruises
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Classic Galapagos: The Natural Habitat Experience
New Ship!

Classic Galapagos: The Natural Habitat Experience

Small-group adventures aboard your choice of private yachts, led by our outstanding naturalist guides and photo pros. Snorkel and swim with sea lions, sea turtles and penguins on this incomparable nature odyssey.

  Photo departures available
8 or 10 Days / Year-Round, From $4995 (+air)
New Ship!
Galapagos Hiking & Kayaking Adventure
New Itinerary!

Galapagos Hiking & Kayaking Adventure

Paddle and explore in places not included on typical trips! Our catamaran-based adventure offers rare access with kayaking permits.
8 or 10 Days / Year-Round, From $5495 (+air)
New Itinerary!
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