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Galapagos Month by Month

NATURAL EVENTS IN GALAPAGOS

Galapagos Santa Cruz Giant Tortoise

January

Galapagos Santa Cruz Iguanas
  • Beginning of the hot season.
  • Land birds start nesting, generally after the first rain.
  • On Española (Hood) Island adult marine iguanas become brightly coloured (green & red + black).
  • The green sea turtles arrive to beaches in GPS for egg laying period.
  • Land iguanas begin reproductive cycles.
  • Both, water and air temperatures rise and stay warm until June.

February

Galapagos Santa Cruz Flamingos
  • On Floreana Island greater flamingos start nesting.
  • Bahama pintail ducks (Black-tailed pintail) start their breeding season.
  • Nazca boobies on Española are at the end of their nesting season.
  • Marine iguanas nest on Santa Cruz Island.
  • The highest water temperature reaches 25C (77F). This temperature remains constant until April.
  • Nesting season of the Galapagos dove reaches its peak.

March

Galapagos Santa Cruz Marine Iguanas
  • The rainy season reaches the highest precipitation (this does not mean it rains everyday, it’s the month with more sunlight).
  • Sporadic tropical rains, intense sun and hot climate. Air temperature can reach up to 30C (86F). Humidity is high.
  • Marine iguanas nest on Fernandina
  • Arrival of the waved albatross to Española.
  • Even the western islands have warm waters where snorkelling is excellent. Punta Vicente Roca (Isabela) can be an amazing site. Penguins still active in the water, next to tropical fish! (How bizarre!)
  • Some shores, especially those facing the north side, can receive deep surge (ola de fondo) coming from the northern currents. Wet landings at places like Puerto Egas, Gardner Bay, Bartolomé can sometimes be a challenge.

April

Galapagos Santa Cruz Albatross
  • Massive arrival of waved albatrosses to Española. Amazing courtship starts.
  • End of hatching season of the giant tortoises
  • Eggs of green sea turtles begin to hatch
  • Eggs of land iguanas hatch on Isabela
  • While the rains have ended, the islands quite continue green
  • Good visibility in the water for snorkelers.

May

Galapagos Santa Cruz blue footed boobies
  • Blue-footed boobies begin their courtship
  • Sea turtles are still hatching.
  • Palo santo trees begin to shed their foliage.
  • Waved albatross on Española start laying their eggs
  • Ban-rumped storm petrels begin their first nesting period
  • Scholars agree that May brings best of both world, as the two seasons (hot and dry) interbreed here and produce outstanding weather and wildlife encounters. This fact is also true for April and June.

June

Galapagos Santa Cruz aldabra
  • Beginning of the garúa season (dry season).
  • Giant tortoises on Santa Cruz Island migrate from the highlands to the lowlands in search of suitable nesting places
  • Beginning of the nesting season of giant tortoises
  • South east trade winds return. Currents become a bit stronger. Seas pick up in surge and wave action.
  • Many red pouches by males of Magnificent Frigatebirds on North Seymour.
  • Southern migrants have started their journey towards the north. Galapagos is a rest stop 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 can reach the Galapagos too.

July

Galapagos Santa Cruz Land birds
  • Sea bird communities are very active (breeding), especially the Blue footed boobies on Española.
  • Flightless cormorants perform beautiful courtship rituals and nesting activities on Fernandina.
  • If you walk along the shores of Puerto Egas (Santiago Island) you could find American oystercatchers nesting.
  • Lava lizards initiate mating rituals until November
  • Cetaceans (whales & dolphins) are more likely to be observed, specially off the western coast of Isabela and Fernandina.
  • Great month to see the four stages of nesting in Blue footed boobies: eggs, chicks, juveniles and subadults.
  • Water temperature does not reach more than 21C (68F). we recommend to wear wetsuits to snorkel.

August

Galapagos Tours
  • Galapagos hawks court on Española and Santiago.
  • Nazca boobies and Swallow-tailed gulls nest on Genovesa Island.
  • The temperature of the ocean drops to 18C (64F). We recommend wearing wetsuits to snorkel.
  • Migrant shore birds start to arrive, and stay on the islands until March.
  • Giant tortoises return to the highlands of Santa Cruz.
  • Oceans are quite choppy, currents at the strongest levels, surge can be expected along the shores that face west or south.
  • Pupping season (births) of sea lions has started. Western and central islands are common places for such sightings.

September

santa cruz month by month september_galapgos_islands1
  • Peak of the cold (garúa) season.
  • Galapagos Penguins show remarkable activity on Bartolome. Since May swimmers and snorkelers can be delighted at Bartolome with penguins active at the surface or torpedo-like while underwater.
  • Sea lions are very active. Females have reached estrus stage, and so harem-gathering males are constantly barking and fighting. Shore fighting is heavy. Western and central islands are the most active ones in terms of sea lions’ activities.
  • Most species of sea birds remain quite active at their nesting sites.

October

Galapagos Santa Cruz Blue Footed Boobies1
  • Lava herons start nesting until March.
  • The Galapagos Fur Sea lions begin their mating period.
  • Blue footed boobies raise chicks all over Española and Punta Vicente Roca (Isabela).
  • Giant tortoises are still laying eggs.
  • Days are not always sunny. Garúa 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.
  • Sunrises in the west can be quite beautiful after the garúa covers only certain locations of the western volcanoes. Summits are clear, but low-lying fog covers the shoreline.

November

Galapagos Santa Cruz Sea Lion
  • Pupping of sea lions continue.
  • Sea lions are sexually active on the eastern part of the archipelago.
  • Breeding season for the brown noddies.
  • Band-rumped storm petrels begin their second nesting period.
  • Seas are calm. South east trade winds have decreased strength. Water temperatures are slowly rising.
  • Generally great weather due to transition between one season and the next one
  • Sea lion pups (especially at Champion Islet) play aqua-aerobics next to snorkelers. Most pups here are curious enough to nibble at fins of snorkelers. The average age of most pups is 3-4 months.

December

Galapagos Santa Cruz Giant Tortoise
  • Hatching of giant tortoise’s eggs begins and lasts until April.
  • Green sea turtles display their mating behaviour.
  • The rainy season begins, all of the plants of the dry zone produce leaves. Galapagos becomes “green”.
  • The first young waved albatrosses fledge.
  • Great weather with sunny days as the dry season ends and the hot season starts.