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Do any species stick around the Galapagos Islands?

When it comes to seasons in the tropics, most of us were taught that there are none. But such teachings couldn’t be any further away from the truth when it comes to a place as unique as Galapagos. albatross flyingWhile the archipelago is geographically equatorial, two very distinct seasons are at play here throughout the year. This is also why, when asked about the best time to come, we always answer by saying that the only “bad time” in the Galapagos is when you aren’t here. What triggers the climate in Galapagos is the presence or absence of winds. Around late-December/early-January, the winds pretty much cease and, gradually, doldrums take over. It isn’t until later on, around April, that the winds return and the cooler/dryer weather takes over the islands. Wildlife uses weather patterns to match up the best environmental conditions with their reproductive needs. The definition of best environmental conditions is quite simple: it all has to do with elevated food availability, adequate nesting habitats, and other incremental alterations in the environment that trigger hormonal changes. These hormonal changes manifest themselves in physiological and behavioral alterations. This dynamic is a big reason for why these highly islands can be visited at any point throughout the year. While conditions may change, they don’t never necessarily ever reach extremes (these types of stark contrasts only occur at different latitudes).Albatrosses Galapagos

So, the answer to the questionDo species stick around the Galapagos Islands?is YES, all of them doexcept for one.

Every year, as soon as the hot season has fully set in, the Galapagos Albatross – the largest sea bird in the islands and a member of our BIG15 – packs its bags and heads for the cooler southern ocean. They don’t migrate out to another continent or oceanic islands, but instead follow the nutrient-rich waters and wait for the winds to gradually return to Galapagos. The last individuals will be seen around the first week of January, and then it’s Au revoir! until the first days of April. And guess what? Earlier this week, we saw that the first albatrosses for this season officially landed on Española Island – the only piece of land that they call home. Yacht La Pinta was lucky enough to spot a few individuals on land while some were hovering over the island. From all perspectives, this is a good sign, especially because the arrival of albatrosses often functions as a “forecast” of the cooler waters that are gradually moving in, with the winds serving as the main drivers of change. The Galapagos albatross is therefore the only real example of a species that truly flies away and actually leaves the Galapagos Islands. In a certain sense, you could see it as a short-lived migration, but it is quite a unique one, as albatrosses will spend their entire time away simply floating over the vastness of the Pacific Ocean. If you belong to your local neighborhood albatross club, or if albatrosses are your personal passion, then you definitely need to explore the Galapagos between April and January.albatross courtship In terms of what itinerary brings you to the haven of Española Island, well Yacht La Pinta delivers a great selection of islands and visitor sites in its Eastern Galapagos Islands itinerary. It runs from Thursday to Monday, and it also explores top islands like South Plaza, Santa Fe and San Cristobal.Eastern La Pinta And while it may seem like albatrosses are the iconic species for this itinerary, keep in mind that there are other equally iconic species that are quite stunning too, such as: land iguanas, giant tortoises, colored marine iguanas, and all three species of boobies. For sure, a very revealing trip. Also, this particular region of the islands holds the largest marine biodiversity of the archipelago. Landscapes experienced along this itinerary are also perhaps some of the most varied due to the variety of their geological age. From a geo-tourism perspective, this itinerary is certainly one that will keep you busy documenting the stunning visual components of this trip. Text, Photography & Video Clips by Francisco “Pancho” Dousdebés – Galapagos Expert Sullivan Bay, San Salvador (James) Island – GALAPAGOS, April 18th, 2018 :: Lat: ‎0°28′59″ S / Long: 90°56′54″ W
Francisco Dousdebes

About Francisco Dousdebes

Francisco “Pancho” Dousdebés is an Ecuadorian, born in Quito. Early in life he developed a special interest in natural sciences and a special predilection for the outdoors. After finishing high school in Ecuador, he travelled abroad as an exchange student and landed in the Midwest of the United States. Afterwards, Francisco studied Biology and, in 1986, had a great opportunity land right in his hands: to become a Naturalist Guide for the Galapagos National Park. Currently, he is the Galápagos Product Manager for Yacht La Pinta, Yacht Isabela II and the Boutique Hotel Casa Gangotena in Quito. He loves to promote the beauty of Ecuador all over the World, and has participated in many Trade Shows, International Forums, and Roadshows together with the Ministry of Tourism and Quito Turismo. He is keen on explaining the role of sustainability in fragile destinations, and also gives lectures on Ecuador’s natural history, natural selection, evolution, and sustainable tourism. Traveling is certainly one of his passions, and whenever he has free time, he has already surely arrived at his next exploration destination.