Ecuador’s archipelago was known to early explorers as “Las Islas Encantadas.” Today, they are named after one of their most famous inhabitants: the giant tortoises, whos shells are reminiscent of a Spanish saddle called “Galápago.” The islands may have changed their names, but they are no less magical. Close encounters with wild animals such as giant tortoises, penguins, sea lions or iguanas win the hearts of every visitor. But still, tortoises and other species are threatened by introduced animals, by habitat destruction as well as by poaching and by the illegal wildlife trade.
Marine Iguana, Isla Isabela
Marine iguanas rid themselves of excess salt, consumed along with the algae, by a special gland connected to their nostrils.
Sun worshipper, Las Tintoteras, Isla Isabela
marine iguanas are the only sea-going lizards in the world; Puerto Villamil, Isla Isabela
Running marine Iguana, Isla Isabela
Is he smiling? The short, blunt nose is well-adapted to feeding on algae growing on rocks.
Giant Tortoise on San Cristóbal (Chelonoidis chathamensis)
I am bigger! Giant Tortoise in the Galapaguera Cerro Colorado
In case of danger the giant tortoises can retract their head.
Here a giant wants to intimidate a smaller giant. With success.
Curious giant tortoise. The animals in the Galapaguera are used to see visitors.
Two female marine iguanas warming up after a dive, Isla Isabela
A little sea dragon. The tail is perfect for propelling the iguana through the water while the legs hang useless at its sides.
What a look! Marine iguana, Isla Isabela
Just hanging around.
Iguana sneaks up
Marine iguana between lava rocks
Marine iguanas show their color as they mature – the young are black, while adults range between red, black, green and grey
Photos of penguins, sea lions and birds of the galápagos islands can be found on the respective species pages.