Galapagos marine life

It is currently reported that there are over 400 different species of fish roaming the Galapagos islands surrounding waters with 17% endemic to this area only.

Just as amazing as the animals on dry land the marine life in the waters that surround the Galapagos islands is spectacular. Many large marine animals are to be seen, from the colourful parrot and damsel fish to the larger moray eels and manta rays the Galapagos waters are full of life, a picturesque scene is painted as the Galapagos marine life swims graciously in the archipelagos protected sea.

Five examples of the varied marine life are as follows, there are over 12 species of sharks with no known attacks on man, 2 species of hammerheads, 5 species of rays (stingrays, golden ray, marbled ray, spotted eagle ray and manta rays), 18 types of morays, the more common tiger shark, black-tip shark and the whale and gray reef shark. The marine mammals frequenting the water ocean are the dolphins along with their extended family the bottle-nosed and common species. The whales species include the Brydes whales, pilot whale, Minke whale, blue whale and Cuviers whale who traverse the complete island range although Fernandina and Isabela Islands are considered hot spots for viewing these whales. In addition there are numerous starfish, urchins and crustaceans as well as sea cucumbers bobbing around.


If you snorkel or dive breathtaking marine life encounters will put you up close with white tipped reef sharks, hammer head sharks, whale sharks, Galapagos marine turtles and other interesting swimmers as the playful sea lions that pull on your fins as you swim by.

Half the experience in the Galapagos is below sea level, and for many the main reason to visit Galapagos, it is the number 1 dive site around the world for a good reason.

Marine life in the Galapagos is "friendly" and is not afraid nor offensive to humans, they swim by as if you were invisible.


Sallylightfoot crab, Fiddler crabs, Ghost crabs, Hermit crabs. Usually found amongst the rocks along the shoreline, on the beach, and on the black lava rocks.
Sea Shells

Green Sea Urchins

Round sculptured skeletons are composed of a series of interlocking plates. Often seen on beaches.

Pencil Sea Urchins

Have pencil shaped spines. Found usually washed up on beaches, spines are poisonous.

Sea Stars

Refered to as star fishes found all around the Galapagos, many varieties can be spotted.

White tipped reef shark

Found many times while your snorkel. Mainly found off Santa Cruz island by Black Turtle Cove and within grottos or caves. They feed at night and sleep during the day. Usually found resting at the bottom on the sand.

Galapagos shark

Found all around the archipelago. May be found while snorkelling.

Hammer head shark:
Usually found when diving by gordon's rocks, outside devil's crown, off Darwin and Wolf; just to name a few amonst the many dive sites.


Orca, Minke, Bryde's, Sperm and Humpback whales can be spotted. Usual spottings are at Bolivar channel between Isabela and Fernandina islands and Punta Abermarle (northern Isabela island).

Pilot nose dolphin

Found all around the archipelago, more commonly located of the coast of Isabela and Fernandina islands in the Bolivar channel.

King Angelfish

Black coloring with vertical white stripes and a orange yellow tail. Usually found near rocks at most snorkelling sites.


yellow-tailed damselfish, sergeant major (yellow and silver body with dark stripes), giant damselfish (blue with large fins). Found throughout the whole archipelago easy to spot while snorkelling.

Flying Fish

Also known as gliding fishes. Usually spotted while cruising. Hard to see.

Hieroglyphic Hawkfish

Colorful in complete camouflage of stripes and bands. Hides amongst rocks and easily spotted at most snorkelling sites.

Moorish idols

Vertical black, white, and yellow bands, with a long white dorsal fin. It is one of the most beautiful fish in the archipelago.

Moray Eels

Look like a large brown snake. Usually are in caverns and crevices. Can be seen when snorkelling.

Parrot fish

In the Galapagos you may find these near Coral reefs, the types of parrot fish found are the blue-chin parrotfish, azure parrotfish, bicolor parrotfish, and the bumphead parrotfish. There teeth have the form of a parrot's beal.

Concentric Pufferfish

Puffed up and usually found in shallow waters, there skin is poisonous.

Yellow-tailed surgeonfish

They travel in schools and can easily be spotted while snorkelling. Grey body with a brightly colored yellow tail.

Yellow Bellied Triggerfish

Have contrasting black and yellow coloring, usually found in reefs and rocks.


Rainbow wrasses with multicolor stipes, sunset wrasses with orange to pink heads, and streamer hogfish with bumpheads; these three are the most common amongst the many assortment of these fishes.


Cow-nosed rays, manta rays, spotted eagle rays, sting rays. Usually spotted at Black Turtle Cove, open ocean, and in some cases under the flour sand at Floreana island, depending on the species. All can be seen while snorkelling.