Last updated: 01:30 PM ET, Thu April 28 2016

Dispatch: In Search of the ‘Big 15’ in the Galapagos

Destination & Tourism | Janeen Christoff | April 28, 2016

Dispatch: In Search of the ‘Big 15’ in the Galapagos

PHOTO: A Galapagos sea lion plays with a baby Galapagos fur seal. (photos by Janeen Christoff)

Just like on safari in Africa, there are some must-see species in the Galapagos — topping the list is probably the blue-footed booby, but there are some lesser-known birds and animals on the list as well. And it does not take long to begin to find them.

Onboard the Santa Cruz II with Metropolitan Touring, guests discovered quickly how easy to spot — and how friendly — these creatures are. Years of isolation on an island chain untouched by society, the species of the Galapagos were allowed to adapt and evolve without the interruption of human interaction. The islands were a treasure trove of scientific information when Charles Darwin first visited.

READ MORE: The Galapagos Islands’ Big 5

Now, the national park protects these animals for future generations of visitors and for further scientific research and the study of their ongoing adaptions to their environment.

The Big 15 — the must-see animals for visitors to the Galapagos — include the Galapagos penguin, the blue-footed booby, the Santa Fe land iguana, the Galapagos hawk, great and magnificent frigate birds, the American flamingo, the flightless cormorant, the elusive red-footed booby, the Nazca booby, the Galapagos albatross, the land iguana, the Galapagos giant tortoise, Galapagos fur seal and the Galapagos sea lion. All of the animals from the Galapagos have specific adaptations that make them slightly different than their counterparts in the rest of the world – and then there’s that whole “no fear” thing. It is true what they say, all of these animals have little to no fear of humans and you have to watch out as they will come straight for you to say a quick hello.

READ MORE: Top Landing Sites in the Galapagos Islands

Below are some of the Big 15 spotted during the first hours of our cruise on North Seymour island.

The blue-footed boobies during a mating ritual.

Frigate birds puff out their red pouches to attract females.

The Galapagos land iguanas are very friendly creatures.

For more information on Ecuador, Galapagos Islands

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