Galapagos Marine Life

galapagos marine life

The Galapagos marine life is a unique ecosystem recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

It is the second largest marine reserve in the world and the first in America.


It has an area 133,000 km2 and was created in 1998 to protect the waters around the Galapagos Islands and the hundreds of animal species that live here.

The cold Humboldt Current that brings rich nutrients and the warm tropical waters allow the Galapagos Islands to sustain a wide variety of marine life.

Many other species depend on the marine life of Galapagos for their food, such as sea birds that eat fish and the marine iguanas that feed on algae growing on the bottom of the sea.

Find Cheap Air Flights to the Galapagos Islands here

The Ocean that surround Galapagos is home to Green Sea Turtles (that can reach sometimes a weight of about 150 kg) sharks, sea lions and nearly 500 species of Galapagos Fish out of which 25% are endemic.

The natural lava formations provide the function of a reef. Smaller fish live protected within these structures when they come out to feed and the invertebrates make their home in the lava.

Thus the marine food chain and life in Galapagos is established around the lava formations. Galapagos marine life is directly related to the life on the Islands of this Archipelago.

Different species of animals such as birds, endemic marine iguanas, endemic penguins, sea lions, fur seals and others depend on the ocean for food and survival.

A popular activity in Galapagos is scuba diving. Most of our diving tours focus on viewing the Marine Life.

Our Galapagos Diving Tours will take you to remote Island areas like Darwin and Wolf where land visits are not permitted, but diving is an extraordinary adventure.

You will have the opportunity to see Whales and Hammerhead Sharks, twelve species of shark, including black-tipped reef sharks, as well as the wonderful White Tipped Sharks and five species of rays also live in these waters.

Snorkeling is another fantastic activity. Visit Devil's Crown (which is a submerged volcano) where you will experience a sensation similar to swimming in a tropical fish tank.

The Galapagos marine life includes 16 species of whales, some of these species are the Humpback Whales and also the sperm, blue, and killer whales.

Galapagos Dolphins are abundant in these Islands, specially the common and bottle-nosed dolphins. They are frequently seen jumping and swimming graciously in schools (sometime over a hundred) near the cruise ships.

An interesting fact is that dolphins and whales breathe air just like humans. Sharks and other fish are "cold blooded" and consequently they don't breathe air.

Whales and dolphins in the Galapagos Islands were hunted until the end of the 19th century. But things are different now, thanks to a series of the new environmental laws the hunting has stopped and the population of whales and dolphins have increased.

You can even see the incredible Galapagos Whale Shark in the surrounding waters of the Islands especially during the warm period that goes from May to December.

Most of Galapagos marine life species like hammerhead sharks, Sea Lions tropical penguins, Marine Iguanas sea turtles and thousands of colorful fish and the giant Mola Mola Fish can be seen all year round.

For your knowledge, Rays and Sharks are fish that have skeletons made of cartilage and the rest of fish have bony skeletons.

You can also find in Galapagos a colorful crab called the Sally Lightfoot Crab These crabs have a mix of bright orange, blue and yellow colors, they are usually seen moving in the lava rocks near the shores of the Islands.

Other Species in Galapagos Marine Life:

  • Shrimps and lobsters
  • Octopuses, sea shells and squids
  • Starfishes and sea cucumbers
  • Sting, golden, eagle and manta rays
  • Jellyfish, sponges, seaweed, algae and corals

The Galapagos Penguin also inhabits the tropical waters of this famous Archipelago.

The Galapagos Marine Life is abundantly rich and is an opportunity not to be missed during your vacations in the Galapagos Islands.

See More About Galapagos

Galapagos Islands Holidays

Galapagos Attractions

Beautiful Galapagos Island Pictures

Fernandina Island

Galapagos Classification

Affordable Galapagos Tours

If you have questions about the Galapagos Marine Life, You can post them on our Galapagos FAQ Section and if you'd like to request more information about our recommended Galapagos Island Tours to explore this Archipelago, You can Contact us here

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