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Galapagos Islands

 
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Mammals


Galapagos tourists with sea lionsSea Lion: The Galapagos sea lion is one of three subspecies of the Californian sea lion (Zalophus californianus) species. It is found in the Galapagos Archipelago where it is one of the most conspicuous and numerous marine mammals. Well adapted to its semi-aquatic lifestyle, it has a streamlined body and powerful fins, and as a member of the eared seals (Otariidae family), which includes fur seals and sea lions, this aquatic mammal is able to control its hind flippers independently. This adaptation allows it more agility on land than seals, which cannot move their hind limbs independently. Furthermore, unlike the true seals (family Phocidae), Z. c. wollebaeki swims using its strong and well developed fore flippers. Adult males are much larger than females and are brown in colour while females are a lighter tan. Adult males are also distinguished by their raised foreheads, and the hair on the crest may be a lighter colour. Juvenile Galapagos sea lions are chestnut brown in colour and measure around 75 cm at birth.

Fur Seal: The Galapagos Fur Seal is the smallest of the Southern Fur Seal reaching a length of up to 5 feet at maturity. Their coats of dark gray brown to dusky black nearly lead these animals to extinction, as hunters targeted them. Pups are born with a smooth and silky skin to which fur develops around 6 months of age. This made them prime targets for hunters back in the 18th century. These animals have survived from the brink of extinction, are the shiest creatures in the archipelago. Their numbers now compare in numbers with the sea lions. During the day they hide from the hot equatorial sun in shelves or caves of the rocky lava cliffs of the western islands. At night they feed on squid and fish avoiding the sharks, which are their natural predator.

Galapagos wildlife, dolphinDolphins: There are three species of dolphins that live around the islands.  The most frequently seen are the bottle-nosed dolphins, which are often spotted in front of or around boats. Less commonly seen are spinner and common dolphins. Arguably the best known sea mammals, dolphins hold a special place in our hearts. In the Galapagos, the most commonly seen species are bottle-nosed dophin (Tursiops truncatus) and common dolphin (Delphinus delphis)

Whales:  The sperm whales around the Galapagos were almost hunted to extinction by whalers in the 18th century, and as a result are rarely seen even today. Some pods are occasionally seen in the northern and western waters, and individuals are sometimes spotted in the narrow channel between Fernandina and Isabela. Humpback, sei, minke, finback, pilot and killer whales are also occasionally seen.

 

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Galapagos wildlife