Galapagos Wildlife Calendar

Brian Wood’s photo

We have put together this Galapagos wildlife calendar as this unique archipelago has so much to offer in each different month of the year. As with our more general Wildlife Calendar it is not intended to be the entire picture of everything that is happening in the Galapagos - that would be simply impossible! - but it is a great guide that will help you to select the optimum time to visit the islands and enjoy the wildlife at its best.

January

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  • On Espanola the adult marine iguanas become brightly coloured
  • Green turtles arrive to the beaches to lay their eggs
  • Land iguanas begin their reproductive cycles on Isabela
  • The water and air temperatures rise and stay warm until June – it is an ideal time for snorkelling
  • The rainy season begins and the land birds start nesting

February

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  • Greater flamingoes begin nesting on Floreana
  • Beginning of the black-tailed pintails breeding season
  • Nazca boobies on Espanola are at the end of their nesting season
  • Marine iguanas begin nesting on Santa Cruz
  • The water temperature reaches 25 degreesc and remains constant until April
  • The nesting season of the Galapagos dove reaches its peak

March

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  • The rainy season reaches its peak (but it doesn’t rain everyday). The rains are sporadic and tropical the sun is intense and the air temperature can reach up to 30 degrees c
  • Marine iguanas nest on Fernandina
  • March 21st, the beginning of the summer equinox, signals the arrival of the first Waved Albatross to Espanola

April

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  • Arrival en-masse of waved albatrosses to Espanola for the start of their courtship
  • End of the hatching season of the Giant Tortoises
  • The eggs of green turtles begin to hatch
  • Eggs of Land Iguanas hatch on Isabela
  • The rains have ended but the islands are still green
  • Good visibility in the water for snorkellers

May

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  • North Seymour’s blue-footed boobies begin their courtship
  • Green turtles are still hatching on Gardner Bay, Punta Cormorant, and Puerto Egas
  • Most of the marine iguanas eggs hatch from their nests on Santa Cruz
  • The waved albatross on Espanola begin laying their eggs
  • Ban-rumped storm petrels begin their first nesting period

June

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  • Beginning of the cold season
  • Giant tortoises on Santa Cruz Island migrate from the highlands to the lowlands in search of suitable nesting places
  • Beginning of the giant tortoises nesting season
  • The south-east trade winds return making currents stronger
  • Southern migrants have begun their journey towards the north. Galapagos is an important landfall for such birds. Some species of cetaceans also follow this pattern of migration
  • Some groups of humpback whales that migrate up to equatorial latitudes along the coast of Ecuador reach the Galapagos

July

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  • The sea bird colonies are very active (breeding), especially the blue-footed boobies on Espanola
  • Flightless cormorants perform beautiful courtship rituals and nesting activities on Fernandina
  • American oystercatchers are nesting on the beaches of Santiago
  • Lava lizards begin their mating rituals which continue until November
  • One of the best months to observe whales and dolphins especially off the western coast of Isabela
  • A good time to observe the four stages of nesting in blue-footed boobies – eggs, chicks, juveniles and sub-adults

August

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  • Galapagos Hawks begin their courtship displays on Espanola and Santiago
  • Nazca boobies and swallow-tailed gulls nest on Genovesa
  • The ocean temperature drops to 18 degrees C
  • Migrant waders begin to arrive and stay on the islands until March
  • Giant tortoises return to the highlands of Santa Cruz
  • The sea is choppy and ocean currents are at their strongest levels
  • Galapagos sealions begin to give birth

September

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  • Peak of the cold season
  • The air temperature is at its lowest level at 19 degrees C
  • Galapagos penguins are at thier most active on Bartolome
  • Galapagos sealions are very active. Females have come into season and the males are constantly barking and fighting
  • Most species of sea birds remain quite active at their nesting sites

October

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  • Lava herons start nest building and continue until March
  • The Galapagos fur sealions begin mating
  • Blue-footed boobies raise their chicks on Espanola and Isabela
  • Giant tortoises are still laying eggs
  • Days are not always sunny. Garua 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

November

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  • Pupping of Galapagos sealions continues
  • Breeding season for the brown noddies begins
  • 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 on the shores of Flour Beach on Floreana
  • Band-rumped storm petrels begin their second nesting period
  • The seas are calm and the south-east trade winds have decreased in strength. The water temperatures are slowly rising
  • Generally good weather due to a seasonal transition
  • Excellent visibility for snorkellers

December

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  • Hatching of giant tortoise’s eggs begins and lasts until April
  • Green turtles begin their mating display
  • The rainy season begins and all of the plants in the dry zone produce leaves. The Galapagos archipelago becomes noticably ‘green’
  • The first young waved albatrosses fledge

Our Galapagos pages are full of interesting ideas and information as well as trips to this wonderful part of the world.

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