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You are here:Galapagos Animals & Wildlife
The Galapagos Islands have a low biodiversity (that is, few species), because the islands are 600 miles from the nearest land and this huge expanse of inhospitable ocean in-between makes it very difficult for new kinds of plants and animals to reach the islands. Marine organisms, such as green sea turtles and corals, probably came on their own, swimming, or as floating larvae. Sea birds are all strong flyers that frequently make long journeys across the open sea. But most of the Galapagos life forms reached the islands by accident, and all had a long sea voyage. During that trip, both plants and animals were exposed to saltwater, drying winds, and intense sunlight. They had no fresh water or food. Galapagos reptiles are also more likely than land birds or mammals to be able to survive under these conditions. As a result, animals of the Galapagos Islands are species whose ancestors were already well suited for its harsh environments. Compared to elsewhere in the tropics there are few birds or Galapagos mammals, and many important groups are missing.
In total, 32 indigenous species of mammals have been recorded in Galapagos in recent times. This excludes domesticated species which have become feral (dogs, cats, pigs, goats, donkeys, horses and cattle) and introduced rodents (rats and mice).
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Twenty eight species of reptiles have been recorded in Galapagos in recent times. Nineteen of these species are endemic to the archipelago, 11 of which are confined to single islands, and three species have been introduced.
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Darwin Finches, or Galapagos Finches, are small land birds with generally dull black, brown or olive, often streaky, plumage; short tails; and short, rounded wings. Their bills vary greatly in size and shape (a fact which was instrumental in inspiring Charles Darwin's thinking in relation to the theory of evolution - and hence the name given to this fascinating group of species).
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In total, 47 species of sea birds have been recorded in the Galapagos, 19 of which are resident to the Islands. The sea birds therefore account for nearly one third of all the species ever recorded in the islands and about the same proportion of the resident species.
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In total, 21 species of water birds have been recorded in Galapagos, 10 of which are endemic to the Islands. Thirty Four species of shore birds have been recorded in Galapagos, only 2 of which are endemic.
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In total, 49 species of land birds have been recorded in the Galapagos, 22 of which are endemic to the Islands. Land birds can be divided into 5 categories: Dirunal Raptors, Night Birds, Larger Land Birds, Aerial Feeders and Smaller Land Birds.
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