Santiago Island, Galapagos – Part Three: A Rocky Volcanic Shoreline


The afternoon visit on Santiago Island began on a black sanded beach with snorkeling. After an hour’s stay we donned our shoes to hike through the island to arrive to a volcanic rock filled coastline. The terrain was rugged and the surf’s waves boomed in the distance. This section of Santiago Island is known for its Galapagos Fur Seals.


The Galapagos Fur Seal are unique to the islands, and only one small colony exists away from the Galapagos on the northern coast of Peru. These fur seals prefer to spend more time on land on rocky terrain. While looking very similar to the Galapagos Sea Lion, these Galapagos Fur Seals are smaller and their coats thicker. They can also be identified by their bulging eyes, larger ears and larger front flippers.


We walked along the coastline to return to the black sanded beach. Along the way, Marine Iguanas dotted the landscape, while Sea Lions enjoyed the tide pools.






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This shoreline is filled with wildlife and in a short distance a number of species were seen. As usually, I was at the end of the line in search of my feathered friends. When everyone was rushing up to get their first looks at the Galapagos Fur Seals, I was enjoying two Galapagos Doves that flew in for a quick visit.

gal30mar14pm-0284But the Galapagos Doves weren’t the only birds along this shoreline. It seems that this shoreline is shorebird heaven and I was gleefully finding and photographing a nice variety of birds.

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I was enjoying a pair of beautiful American Oystercatchers snoozing on the rock. They woke up and began flirting. But then an interloper flew in and was quickly chased off.

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Tucked in the volcanic rock on the tide pools, bright Sally Lightfoot Crabs creeped along.


The afternoon spent on Santiago Island was truly a highlight on the week long cruise on the Galapagos Islands. In such a small area a wide variety of wildlife was enjoyed. And on the return to our ship the Eclipse, we had to say good bye to the Island.

SPECIES SEEN: Galapagos Sea Lion, Galapagos Fur Lion, Marine Iguana, Lava Lizard Manta Ray (Jumping in ocean)

BIRDS SEEN: Magnificent Frigatebird, Galapagos Hawk, Blue Footed Booby, Brown Pelican, Ruddy Turnstone, Sanderling, Western Sandpiper, Whimbrel, Wandering Tattler, American Ostercatcher, Elliott Storm Petrel, Galapagos Shearwater, Swallowtail Gull, Lava Heron, Great Blue Heron, Yellow Crowned Heron, Galapagos Mockingbird, Yellow Warbler, Medium Ground Finch, Galapagos Flycatcher, Galapagos Dove

19 replies »

    • That is a great question Perpetua. As I’ve seen Sea Lions in San Francisco Bay and you could smell their fishy smell nearly a mile away. Surprising, just a teeny briny with the salt air, but a fresh smell.

  1. I don’t even know what to say about that first Iguana, what an incredible face! Thank you for sharing that with us, it’s strangely mesmorizing! I love it. The Iguanas here look even bigger than most of the ones you captured before you got to the islands. Was that the case?

    Just realized I called one of your previous Sea Lions a Seal, oops, nevertheless the Fur Seal is precious with its one eye open. And the Sea Lion looks like he’s going along with the motions of every day life on the islands with tourists. “Alright, let’s go, take the picture. Want me out of the water? Okay, got it?”

    I love that you love birds, all of us bird fans here are grateful for this indeed. The dove is too cute, I love the coloring on its wings. And I did not know Great Blues were down there! Perhaps this is my ignorance showing as though I think just cuz I’ve known them all my life they couldn’t be anywhere else. Lol. All of the bird shots are well done, well-taken, you never fail to impress. I’m wondering about those Oyster Catcher beaks, I’d think they get in the way after a while.

    The slideshows are a great addition to these posts, i hope you keep up with this feature even once you’re home. Lounging lizards were lavishly lovely to look upon while lapping up liquids in less lush landscapes. 😉

    • Where do I even start my dear? The Guayaquil Iguanas and the Galapagos Iguanas are similar in size. It all depends on the age but different types of course.

      The Sea Lions were totally cool with the tourists and like you said, had no problem posing perfectly for us. Sometimes they would get closer just to check us out. But usually they just ignored us.

      I was the only true birder on the ship, so I was on my own with the excitement. One guy actually said at one stop “That was boring..there were no animals, just birds!” HAHA Idiot… There were a few birds there that are seen up here and that did indeed surprise me. GBH’s are seen in all sorts of places.

      Had to do the slideshows, too many photos!

  2. Amazing shots of such an exquisite place, thank you for taking me on your journey through Santiago Island. Loved the images of the Sally Lightfoot crabs, their vibrant colours scurrying along the water’s edge. The boobies were another favourite, always in pairs along the rocks. Again, wonderful images captured beautifully.

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