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Galapagos sea lion on red sand beach, Rabida
© Vanessa Horwell

Island overview

Rabida’s red colouring is due to high levels of iron in the lava that formed the island, giving it an almost Martian appearance. Most of the coastline is rocky, with the sandy beach on the northeast side providing the only access point for tourists.

Brown pelicans can be seen nesting near the beach, and behind the beach there is a saltwater lagoon where flamingos and other wading birds feed. Blue-footed and Nazca boobies are a common sight on the coast, while inland you can see Darwin’s finches, yellow warblers, mockingbirds and Galapagos doves. Marine iguanas and lava lizards are also present on Rabida. There is a dive site at the northern end of the island, with the chance to spot sea lions, sea turtles, eagle rays, fur seals and the occasional reef shark or penguin.

Brown pelican on Rabida island, Galapagos
Brown pelican on Rabida © Marcel Gross

Wildlife highlights

Galapagos sea lion

Galapagos sea lion

The most abundant marine mammal in the Archipelago, Galapagos sea lions can often be seen sleeping on the beaches or swimming close to shore.
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American flamingo in Galapagos

American flamingo

The American flamingo is well known for having vibrant pink feathers and a flexible neck. Galapagos is home to a small population of a few hundred flamingos.
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Marine iguana in Galapagos

Marine iguana

Marine iguanas are endemic to the Galapagos Islands and are the only sea-going lizards in the world!
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Blue-footed boobies

Blue-footed booby

The blue-footed booby is a favourite for many visitors to Galapagos and their brightly coloured feet make them one of the easiest birds to identify.
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Conservation challenges

Rabida is one of many islands in Galapagos to have suffered the damaging effects of invasive species introduced by humans. During the 1970s goats were twice introduced to Rabida and then subsequently eradicated, and in 2011 introduced black rats were successfully eradicated from the island. The ecosystem is now recovering, as evidenced by the observation in 2022 of flamingos breeding on Rabida for the first time in over 20 years. 

Galapagos mockingbird on Rabids
Galapagos mockingbird on Rabida © Martha Barnes-Nelson

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