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11/05/2016 Wildlife facts

Galapagos in May

Find out what wildlife you will be able to see, and what the weather conditions will be like if you visit the Galapagos Islands in the month of May.

Photograph of Holly Forsyth

Holly Forsyth

Former Communications Assistant at Galapagos Conservation Trust

Many people say May is the ideal time to visit Galapagos. The weather is pleasant, many reptile and bird eggs are hatching, and land birds are abundant and active.

The green sea turtle nesting season is coming to an end, however, it is not uncommon to see the last few breeders of the season heave themselves up the sandy beaches in order to dig nests and lay their eggs.

Green turtle © Patricia Zarate

© Patricia Zarate

Marine iguanas and land iguanas are also breeding in May. Both species nest in burrows dug in the lava, sand or soil of their islands.  The eggs of the marine iguanas take 3 months to incubate, in nests dug 30–80cm deep in sand or volcanic ash. Sometimes it’s possible to spot the first hatchlings emerging from the burrows.

May is the month the waved albatrosses begin nesting on Espanola. These large birds spend weeks incubating their eggs, and therefore are not flying out to sea to search of food. This means great photo opportunities for visitors, as the birds are close and still. However, they are not to be approached as this may panic the birds and cause them to damage or abandon their egg.

Waved Albatross © GCT

This month the great frigatebirds begin mating and nesting on Genovesa island. These huge birds take up residence on one of the islands most heavily populated with bird in the archipelago. They build huge nests in the low foliage, often balanced on top of the scrubby, low lying bushes just a metre off the ground. The white, fluffy chicks can be seen perched in the branches of the low standing trees, on the floor along pathways, and in mangrove roots.

Great frigatebird © Judi Miller

© Judi Miller


May is the beginning of the ‘Garua season’. The months lasting from May until December are part of the cool, dry season.  May, along with June, are two of the best months of the year to visit in terms of the weather, as the intense, hot climate of the earlier month begins to wane, leaving hours of clear skies and temperate winds. The average temperature is 25°C, and the water temperature is approximately 24°C.

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