Monthly Wildlife Highlights

January

In the first month of the year, you’ll experience generally sunny days with a chance of tropical, afternoon showers. Both air and water temperatures begin to rise; averages are 84 degrees Fahrenheit for the high, with the ocean registering about 74 degrees.

  • Adult, male marine iguanas on Española Island become brightly colored to attract mates
  • On Isabela Island, the land iguanas begin to mate
  • After the first rain, land birds will begin to nest
  • On beaches, Galápagos green turtles arrive to lay eggs
  • Giant tortoise eggs are hatching

February

February is very much like January, only with slighter warmer air and water temperatures.

  • On Floreana Island, the greater flamingos begin nesting
  • Marine iguanas nest on Santa Cruz Island
  • The nesting season of the Galápagos dove reaches its peak
  • Nazca boobies on Española are at the end of their nesting season
  • Several Galápagos penguins may be seen on Bartolomé Island, but they begin to migrate to the cooler waters off Isabela and Fernandina Island
  • Giant tortoise eggs are still hatching

March

March is the rainiest month of the year in the Galápagos, with an average of two inches of precipitation, falling sporadically.

  • The summer equinox signals the arrival of the waved albatross to Española
  • Galápagos penguins can be spotted on Isabela
  • For the mating season, frigatebirds inflate their red throat pouches on San Cristóbal and Genovesa Islands
  • Marine iguanas nest on Fernandina and Seymour Islands
  • Giant tortoise eggs are still hatching

April

Tropical rain showers may still be frequent in April, but the monthly average of precipitation drops to 1.5 inches. Air temperatures begin to slightly cool.

  • On Española, waved albatrosses arrive en masse
  • The courtship of waved albatrosses begins; the best times to see the birds are April though mid-December
  • Galápagos green turtle eggs begin to hatch
  • Land iguana eggs hatch on Isabela
  • End of the hatching season for giant tortoises

May

The tropical rain showers taper off, and the monthly precipitation average reaches less than an inch. The air temperature continues to cool, as does the water temperature.

  • Blue-footed boobies do their mating dance on Seymour
  • Galápagos sea lions breed from May through January; pups are born a year after conception
  • Band-rumped storm petrels begin their first nesting period
  • Waved albatrosses on Española begin laying eggs
  • Galápagos green turtles are hatching in Gardner Bay on Española, in Punta Cormorant on Floreana, and in Puerto Egas on Santiago Island
  • Marine iguana eggs hatch from nests on Santa Cruz

June

Temperatures continue to drop, and rain showers become rare.

  • Red pouches of male frigatebirds can be seen on Seymour
  • On Genovesa, short-eared owls start mating
  • Giant tortoises on Santa Cruz migrate from the highlands to the lowlands looking for nesting places
  • From June to September, groups of humpback whales that migrate to the Equator along the coast of Ecuador may pass the Galápagos
  • Whale sharks may be seen in the far northwestern islands towards the end of the month

July

July is the beginning of the garúa season. Temperatures continue to cool down, sometimes falling into the 60s. Rain showers are rare. Water temperatures also begin to cool, with an average of 72 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • Whale sharks may be spotted near Darwin and Wolf Islands
  • Whale and dolphin sightings become more common, especially off the west coast of Isabela
  • On Fernandina, flightless cormorants court and nest
  • Lava lizards initiate their mating rituals and continue until November
  • Greater flamingoes court potential mates with a “dance”
  • Oystercatchers nest on Santiago
  • The blue-footed boobies on Española — and other seabird communities around the islands — become very active; you may see blue-footed bobby eggs, chicks, juveniles, and sub-adults
  • The first frigatebird chicks start to hatch

August

August is the coolest month of the year in the Galápagos, with highs in the mid 70s. Water temperatures are at their coolest, too, with an average of 68 degrees Fahrenheit. There is very little rain.

  • Migrant shorebirds start to arrive and stay on the islands until March
  • Galápagos hawks court on Española and Santiago
  • Greater flamingo courtship dances continue
  • On Genovesa, Nazca boobies and swallow-tailed gulls nest
  • Giant tortoises return to the Santa Cruz Highlands after nesting
  • Galápagos sea lions give birth to pups, especially on the western and central islands; if threatened, they may act aggressively
  • Frigatebird chicks are hatching

September

This is the peak of garúa season. Birds and land animals are very active.

  • Galápagos penguins court each other on Bartolomé and continue until December
  • Seabirds remain active at their nesting sites
  • Sea lions are very active
  • There is a chance of seeing migrating humpback whales or whale sharks near the northwest islands

October

The garúa season continues. Water temperatures begin to warm, with an average of 71 degrees Fahrenheit. Summits on the islands are clear, but the coasts may be covered in low-hanging haze.

  • Galápagos fur seals begin their mating season
  • Lava herons nest until March
  • Blue-footed boobies raise their chicks on Española and Isabela
  • Whale sharks are still in the area of Darwin and Wolf Islands

November

Air and water temperatures continue on an upward climb. Seas are calm, and there is good visibility for snorkeling.

  • The best time to view the Galápagos green turtle is November to January; it’s their peak mating season and considerable activity can be observed in the water
  • It’s the breeding season for brown noddies
  • Band-rumped storm petrels begin their second nesting period
  • Galápagos sea lion pups are born; mothers are more relaxed, allowing older pups to play with tourists

December

Rain showers are still rare, as the garúa season comes to an end. The Galápagos begin to green. Temperatures rise, with an average high around 80 degrees Fahrenheit and a low at about 70. Water temperatures warm to about 74 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • Galápagos green turtles continue their mating behavior
  • Hatching of giant tortoise eggs begins and lasts until April
  • Young, waved albatross chicks fledge; and these birds leave the Galápagos, not to return until March

INTERESTED IN PLANNING A TRIP? CONTACT A GALÁPAGOS SPECIALIST AT TOLL FREE USA: 800-701-4278 OR CLICK ON THE CONTACT US BUTTON.

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