The onset of changes in Galapagos starts with the arrival of winds
Galapagos weather depends of the season. Although the Galapagos Islands are geographically located right in the tropics of the East Pacific Ocean, and our geography teachers taught us there are no seasons in the tropics, well, let me surprise you with the idea that there are seasons in some parts of the tropics, and these are markedly different. Galapagos shows two climate patterns: a hot season from December-May and a dry season from June-November.
How does it work? What makes a dry season dry in the tropics?
For about 8 months, there are winds that start down in Antarctic latitudes and blow very strongly along the west coast of South America, creating some massive upwelling of nutrients, which is why Chile, Peru, and Ecuador have amazing seafood. This ocean current is the Humboldt Current. Winds eventually reach subtropical & tropical latitudes, mix with other water masses, and rapidly shift direction towards the west as equatorial latitudes spin faster due to the Coriolis effect, where Earth’s gyre is faster!. This mix of currents forms the SEC (South Equatorial Current), which moves from east to west.
As long as the winds continue blowing, cooler water will arrive. But wait, there are deep ocean currents that move strongly under the surface, almost like a rushing river amidst a vast ocean. Once this current collides with the islands’ volcanic platform, it sharply shifts direction and shoots upward changing all tropical expectations. This current is the Cromwell Current.
YES…cool water right at Latitude 0o 00’ 00’’ thanks to the wind!
Now, for only 3-4 months, the south east trade winds loose strength and allow tropical water trapped in Central America to gradually flow southward and change everything again. Not only warmer water is experienced from December-May, but rainfall turns the islands lush and green. Right now, in July, the south east trade winds are back and the islands have given up their tropical scene. It is the time to see a tropical desert, an equatorial penguin, sea lions next to flamingos, and mangroves next to cacti. It is, for sure, the time to see action in wildlife as the ocean-depending species are going crazy with their reproduction due to the high amounts of food available in the marine realm of the islands.
Regardless your choice of itinerary, you will certainly feel the power of our trade winds. Their effect will let you witness the unique wildlife experience the islands are famous for.