Whales are a fascinating part of the marine ecosystem of the Galapagos Islands. This iconic location, located in the eastern Pacific, are known for their unique biodiversity and their role in Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.
One of the greatest thrills of visiting the Galapagos Islands can be found in the unexpected encounters of Galapagos whales. The fact that Galapagos whale sightings are unexpected, makes them even more exciting when it happens. More than 20 different species of Galapagos whales have been recorded in the ocean of the archipelago. They are attracted to rich feeding grounds and the Galapagos Marine Reserve provides adequate protection. Possible sightings for Galapagos whale watchers include blue whales, humpbacks, killer whales, and Bryde’s whales. Some of them are only temporary visitors, others stay year-round.
Humpback whales are common migratory visitors to Galapagos waters. They migrate from the cold Antarctic waters to the warmer waters near the equator to breed and give birth. Humpback whales are known for their acrobatics and distinctive song, which plays an important role in communication between individuals.
Orcas, also known as Killer whales, have a historical presence in the waters of the Ecuadorian archipelago, which was recognized as a whale sanctuary in 1990.
These whales are highly mobile and widely distributed marine mammals. They are known to inhabit a variety of oceanic regions, from polar to tropical waters. While not a common sight in the Galápagos, orcas do have a presence in the surrounding open ocean. Their visits to the islands might be related to prey availability or migration patterns of their preferred food sources, such as marine mammals and fish.
Bryde’s whales are known to occasionally inhabit the waters around the Galápagos Islands. These whales are part of the baleen whale family and are characterized by their streamlined bodies and relatively small size compared to some other large whale species.
These whales are primarily carnivorous and feed on small fish, krill, and other planktonic organisms. They use a technique known as “lunge feeding,” where they engulf large amounts of prey in a single gulp by swimming through densely packed schools of fish or krill.
What are the best places for whale watching in Galapagos?
The best area of the marine reserve for whale activity is in the channel between Isabela & Fernandina Islands. Depending on the location of the whales, you can view them from the deck or take a short boat ride to get up close to these gentle giants.
Another great spot for whale watching in Galapagos is in the Darwin and Wolf Islands located in the northwest corner of the archipelago. In these islands, the waters are colder and very rich in nutrients, attracting a high concentration of shark and whale species. The only way to visit these islands is aboard a specialist dive cruise.
When is the best time to see whales in Galapagos?
The best time to spot whales in the archipelago is usually between the months of June and November.
As oceanic nomads, whales can migrate to wherever the best feeding grounds are throughout the year, and in Galapagos that means the cold-water months. Around the months of May and June, the cold Humboldt Current arrives in Galapagos from the southern oceans, which, along with the upwelling of the Cromwell Current, causes a drop in water temperature and an increase in sea nuts. So, during the last part of every year, the sea in the Galapagos is full of plankton, krill, sardines, anchovies and mackerel: the perfect feast for hungry whales.
Galapagos whale watching can be a wonderful unexpected bonus during your Galapagos trip. The waters of the Galapagos Marine Reserve are very attractive feeding grounds that attract many species of whales. If you are planning to visit the archipelago during the Galapagos whale season, try to include Isabela and Fernandina in your itinerary, as well as the islands of Darwin and Wolf.
If you want to know the islands and all its variety of animal life from a unique perspective, living every moment in its maximum splendor we invite you to hire the services of a yacht company, not only can you visit the islands but on board you can have personalized guides according to the experience you want to know, a whole ecosystem according to your specific needs.