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Snorkelling with Fur Seals in Galapagos: The Cool Down Effect

Snorkelling with Fur Seals in Galapagos: The Cool Down Effect

Snorkelling with fur seals in Galapagos is a rare event. Fur seals are the second most popular pinniped (and a member of our prestigious BIG15 group of iconic species) in the Galapagos archipelago, yet this lesser seen species is found on just a few islands unlike their more ubiquitous relatives – the Galapagos sea lion. Genovesa Island is known for being one of the islands where this endemic species are usually found. It’s an island that can be visited on our Northern Islands Galapagos itinerary and, if you are lucky, you might even get the chance to go snorkelling with fur seals in Galapagos while here, just like we did on this special occasion!

wet fur seal in galapagos

Snorkelling With Fur Seals in Galapagos: The Least Known Species of Pinniped in Galapagos

Galapagos fur seals are closely related to the Galapagos sea lions. The main difference between fur seals and sea lions is found in size and fur. Fur seals are smaller, reaching only up to 80 kg (175 lb), contrary to the sea lions that can reach up to 300 kg (660 lb). Fur seals also possess a thicker layer of fur, which is why they prefer colder waters and aren’t distributed throughout the entire archipelago.

thick fur seal fur

Up-close image of a fur seal’s fur

Contrary to the sea lions, fur seals have nocturnal habits, feeding on squid that they hunt during the night. Their big eyes are also a big factor the separate them from their sea lions cousins – an evolutionary adaptation that allows them to see better in the dark and in deeper waters. Even though the Galapagos fur seal is not a true seal, their closest relatives and ancestors are the South American fur seals.

An Unexpected Swimmer

Once we got to Genovesa Island, we knew that the chances of seeing a fur seal were relatively high, but we didn’t expect that we’d get to go snorkelling with sea lions in Galapagos on this special occasion! The guides had also already explained us how they have nocturnal habits and usually rest during the day, which made us at first think the odds were stacked against us when it came to hanging out with these cute little creatures.

galapagos fur seal rocks

After getting ready for our snorkelling activity, we noticed that a couple fur seals were sleeping way back in the rocks, up by the cliff walls. Without much hope of swimming with this animals, we jumped into the water. After a couple minutes of observing the variety of reef fish that were swimming around by the rocks, someone noticed that one fur seal in particular was awake and moving towards the water. We anxiously awaited close to where the fur seal was heading and, after a few minutes, it finally got in the water just in front of us!

A Fur Seal Refreshing from the Sun

Once the fur seal got inside the water, the purpose of its particular visit became clear. The fur seal started to turn around and around in the water, refreshing every part of its body. The sun was out, and the temperature outside was rather high. Having such a thick layer of fur, the fur seal was probably too hot outside of the water and decided to take a dip to cool down. And the magical part? The fur seal did not care about our presence at all! Check out the fur seal we snorkelled with below, at the 0:25 mark!

We limited ourselves to just watching it from a distance, observing amusedly as the seal refreshed itself in the water by turning upside down and allowing itself to float over the top of the surface. It was a ridiculously amazing experience for our guests and me to get the chance to go snorkelling with fur seals in Galapagos! Made extra special because it’s one of the least common pinnipeds in the Galapagos Islands!

So why not book your tour aboard the Santa Cruz II Galapagos cruise today and become a part of the magic that the archipelago has to offer with us!

Martín Narvaez

Martín studied Biology and Photography in Universidad San Francisco de Quito. He has a strong passion for wildlife and photography, and has worked as a researcher in Hawaii and Ecuador. He likes to document nature through
photography to transmit the love he feels for it.

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