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Marine mammals in Galapagos have incredible characteristics and abilities. Its speed and agility in the water contrasts with its awkward ground mobility. They can be classified into three species: sea lions, dolphins and whales.

The largest animal found on land in the Galápagos is the endemic sea lion. Sea lions can dive up to five hundred feet, and the majority of their diet consists of sardines. They can live up to twenty years of age. Unfortunately, sea lions are especially vulnerable to human activity.


Where to See Them:

San Cristobal is the place to see sea lions. But anywhere around the islands, and on sandy beaches. Snorkeling and kayaking with the playful pups is often the highlight of a visit to the Galápagos.
Galapagos Fur Seals are smaller than the Galapagos Sea Lions reaching a length of 5 feet and weighing up to 68 kilograms at maturity. They breeds on the Galapagos Islands in the eastern Pacific, making it the only fur seal to breed in tropical waters.

Where to See Them:

During the day Galapagos Fur Seals hide from the hot equatorial sun in shelves or caves of the rocky lava cliffs of the western islands.
The classic whale from Moby Dick, sperm whales are the largest toothed whale and are part of a small family with only three existing species. They are solitary whales and fish eaters.

How to identify the sperm whale:

Due to its extremely deep dives, it is rare that visitors encounter a sperm whale close-up, but it is not uncommon to see its spout on the horizon or its giant tail rise out of the water in the distance as the whale dives. Look for a large, square head; an angled spout; and a minimal dorsal fin.

Two species of bats have been recorded in Galapagos, both indigenous residents. Bats are unmistakable, small, furry, nocturnal, flying mammals. Their wings being formed of a membrane of skin between the elongated digits of their ‘hands’ and their ankles.


Where to See Them:

Found in both the highlands and lowlands.
These dolphins are some of the most common marine mammals in the Galapagos Islands. They are frequently seen riding the wake of cruise ships, yachts and other boats. Bottlenose dolphins travel in large groups.

Where to See Them:

Frequent inshore and offshore, often seen during a Galapagos cruise.
The minke is the smallest of the baleen whales. It has a laterally flat and pointed head and distinct white patches on its flippers. Its dorsal fin is slightly hooked and appears at the same time as its indistinct spout, which is only six-and-a-half-feet high. Its back is strongly arched when blowing, and the flukes are never seen except when it breaches. It weighs eight to ten tons.

Where to see them?

In July Whales are common, especially in the waters between Isabela and Fernandina.
Bryde’s whales often show their heads when at the surface of the water, where it is possible to distinguish three ridges that go along from the blow hole to the point. The dorsal fin on the Bryde’s whale is quite large and falcated (curved back). Their spout is narrow and high. Bryde’s is pronounced ‘broo-dess’

How to identify the Bryde’s whale:

The Bryde’s whale rarely shows its flukes when it dives. The crescent-shaped dorsal fin is up to a foot-and-a-half long, and it has a point. This whale has a narrow spout that may be thirteen feet high.
The largest whale species in the world, as well as the largest animals, blue whales are an incredible sight to see. These whales stretch the length of three football fields and typically live a solitary life in large.

Where to see them:

The Galapagos Islands are one of the few places near land where they are seen with some regularity.
The humpback whale is one of the more easily identified whales in the Galápagos. It has a broad, round head and a string of fleshy tubercles or knobs that form a median ridge. The edges of its jaws also have rows of knobs. Its body is dark-blue or black, and it has white throat grooves.

Where to see them:

Humpbacks are limited to the cooler months between June and October.
An orca is a versatile predator and will eat dolphins, fur seals, penguins, sea lions, and other large animals. The orca has a blunt, round head and is clearly identifiable by its jet-black-and-white coloration.

How to identify the orca:

Look for the black-and-white coloration; powerful, stocky body; and a large dorsal fin.

Did You Know...


The Galapagos sea lion is also known as a «wolf of a hair», because the length of its coat is uniform throughout the body. They are always playing with each other or with other animals. Its weight can reach up to 250 kilograms.

Humpback whales are very large, with females measuring 15 meters and 30 to 40 tons in weight. When diving, they arch their back and tail producing the appearance of a hump, which gives rise to its common name.

In Ecuador, more than 140 species of bats are known, making it the largest group of mammals in the country. This situation is unique for tropical America, because in the rest of countries, the dominant group within mammals is that of rodents.

The Galapagos Fur Seal is one species that spends more time on the land than any other. They still spend about 50% of their time in the land and the other half in water. They prefer to lay on the rocks than on the sandy areas.

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