10 Bizarre Facts about the Galapagos

snorkeling with tortoise at the Galapagos

10 Bizarre Facts about the Galapagos

Few places in the world are as exceptional as the Galapagos Islands. From the unique island formations to the overwhelming diversity of wildlife, the Galapagos Islands are one of a kind.

The islands are also home to manta rays, giant tortoises, and giant land iguanas. Not to mention the only land-based tortoise species on the planet.

There is nowhere that generates as much mythology as these Islands. They are legendary for their unique landscape, filled with animal life and experiences you wouldn’t find anywhere else on earth.

10 Galapagos Islands Animal Facts

1) Lonesome George

The Galapagos is home to a very special 90 year old tortoise. Lonesome George is the only surviving giant Pinta tortoise left on the planet. It is among the rarest animals in the world. All mating attempts with females to date have resulted in infertile eggs. It is a tragic possibility that Lonesome George will be the last of his kind.

2) Tectonic Crossroads

The formation of the Galapagos is a direct result of a three-way tectonic plate junction. The Pacific, Cocos and Nazca plates have resulted in 13 volcanic eruptions in the last 100 years. The most recent activity was a mere 2 years ago in April of 2009.  

3) Colliding Currents

The Galapagos is located at the confluence of five ocean currents. Yes you heard right –five! The mixture of the Equatorial, Cromwell, Humboldt, and Panama currents result in variant water temperatures and immensely unpredictable tides. This abnormal churning of climate has ultimately resulted in the unique ecology of the islands.  

4) Rat Eating Centipedes

The scolopendra centipede is a site to be seen. It can grow up to 30 centimeters. What’s bigger than its size is its appetite. It has been known to feast on lava lizards and even young rats.  

5) Mollusks Galore

Snails – octopuses – cuttlefish – oysters – squids. These are just the tip of the heap in the Galapagos’s seeming endless bag of mollusks. Over 800 mollusks species exist amongst the islands. No wonder it is a world-renowned snorkeling destination.  

6) Marine Iguanas

Lizards don’t swim in the ocean, right? They do in the Galapagos. The marine iguana is the only lizard to swim in the ocean.  

7) Out-of-Town Penguins

The Galapagos is home to the only breeding penguin in the northern hemisphere. Penguins and lizards on the same island? Only in the Galapagos.  

8) One Of A Kind Fishies

There are a whopping 400+ species of fish surrounding the Galapagos Islands. What is truly incredible, however, is the proportion of fish that can only be found in the Galapagos. Over 50 species of fish are endemic.  

9) Wise Tortoises

Galapagos giant tortoises can easily live up to 150 years – all 595 lbs of them!  

10) Flightless Cormorants

Tortoises aren’t the only giants in the Galapagos. The Galapagos cormorants have grown so large that they are the only species in the cormorant family unable to fly. Wouldn't you love to see some of these wonders in person?