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Whales and Dolphins

Whales and dolphins are often seen in the Galapagos. Whales are divided into two groups, those with teeth and those with baleen plates.

Whales and Dolphins

None of the whales seen here is endemic. There are several types of dolphins in the islands. The Bolivar Channel and west of Fernandina are among the best areas to see these creatures.

Toothed whales are the most frequently seen in the Galapagos. They hunt fish, squid and meat, using echo-location to detect prey. The largest of this group is the sperm whale, weighing in at around 45 tons. They can swim down to depths of 3kms and feed mainly on squid and are social animals often seen in pods of up to 40 individuals. The smaller short-finned pilot whales are usually seen in groups of a dozen or more. They and the similar-looking false killer whales often approach boats. The orca or killer whale has distinctive black and white markings and are great predators, even killing other whales. They come in close to the shore and are found throughout the islands.

Of the baleen whales, the most frequently spotted is the humpback whale. They are easy to distinguish due to their unusual shape. Brydes whales are also common and will approach vessels and are unafraid of snorkellers. Baleen whales use the whalebone plate in their upper jaw to sift plankton from mouthfuls of water.

Dolphins found in the islands include striped, spinner and bottlenose, the last of which is the most commonly seen. They sometimes gather in groups of several hundred, playing and leaping into the air. While most dolphins don’t usually approach boats, bottlenose dolphins regularly ride vessels’ bow waves, a wonderful sight for those on board to behold.