Galapagos wildlife

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Galapagos Islands lava lizard


For much of the year these mysterious creatures are only seen when they come to the sea surface to breathe. However, late in the year the quiet lagoons of the Galapagos become the favourite mating areas for the Pacific green turtle which is the

Galapagos marine turtle
only species resident in the islands. Three other species of turtle are occasionally encountered in Galapagos waters: the leatherback, the hawksbill and the olive ridley.

Green sea turtles do not form pair bonds but both males and females mate with many individuals. There seems to be a fair amount of competition for females, as during the peak mating season (November to January), one almost always finds one or more males hanging around a copulating couple waiting for the current male to get off.

Galapagos green turtle

Copulation usually occurs at the surface with the male on top of the female. Unlike the giant tortoise, the male is smaller than the female and he leaves it up to the female to do the necessary swimming during copulation as he uses his own flippers to hold on tightly.

The constant train of suitors must be exhausting for the females and it is common to see them floating with one flipper hooked around a mangrove root or hauling themselves just out of the water to rest.

The male can be distinguished from the female by his longer tail which is used in copulation and by his curved plastron (underside).

Green sea turtles may weigh up to 150 kg though they are more usually in the 50 to 100 kg range. Their shell is hard and is covered by scales which vary in colour from almost black to green and rarely orange or yellow.

Galapagos wildlife, aquatic mammals
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