10 Species You’ll See at the Pikaia Lodge in the Galapagos

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10 Species You’ll See at the Pikaia Lodge in the Galapagos
The Pikaia Lodge is not just one of the most advanced green lodges in the world; it is also an environmental sanctuary that offers an entirely new way to explore the Galápagos Islands. Perched atop an extinct volcano crater, the 14-room property gives guests an intimate experience as well as access to an exotic landscape. But what really defines the Pikaia Lodge is the unmatched access to Galápagos wildlife, which is enhanced by trips on the lodge’s two private yachts (one for sightseeing and another for fishing and snorkeling). Here are some of the species you may see while sailing aboard the larger of the two, the 105-foot Pikaia I.
By Michaela Trimble, AFAR Ambassador
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    Great Frigate Birds
    Flocks of great frigate birds congregate on the island of North Seymour in the Galápagos, where they roost on the island’s many trees. Female great frigate birds are larger than their male counterpart, but the males have the most outstanding characteristic: During mating season, they inflate their gular sacs—large, red pouches under their necks—in the hopes of attracting a female mate.

    Photo by Michaela Trimble
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    Galápagos Giant Tortoises
    The Galápagos giant tortoise is the largest species of tortoise on Earth, with some reaching almost five feet in length and over 500 pounds in weight. The island’s first settlers hunted the tortoises for food, but now they’re protected, although only 11 types remain from the original 15 that Charles Darwin found when he first arrived on the islands.

    Photo by Michaela Trimble
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    Marine Iguanas
    Thanks to their ability to camouflage themselves near coastlines’ volcanic rocks, marine iguanas are hard to spot. Although the creatures might look like predators, they actually forage in the ocean and live off of seaweed and algae. Their dark gray skin tone absorbs sunlight, helping them warm up after icy dips into the waters.

    Photo by Michaela Trimble
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    Land Iguanas
    The land iguanas of the Galápagos Islands are more colorful than their marine counterparts, with yellow and orange scales along their heads, legs, and spines. They live an herbivorous life, but they will resort to eating meat when plant food is scarce. Land iguanas can grow up to three-feet long, and males can weigh almost 30 pounds. The species gets its water supply from prickly-pear cacti, which make up over 80 percent of the iguanas’ diet.

    Photo by Michaela Trimble
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    Sally Lightfoot Crabs
    Sally Lightfoot crabs are elusive, quick creatures that often jump away from rock to rock when someone comes near. They are, however, beautiful, with bright red and yellow bodies with blue undersides, and they can sometimes be found feeding in large groups in shallow water.

    Photo by Michaela Trimble
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    Greater Flamingos
    Catching sight of a flamingo is a rare occurrence from onboard a boat, but if you see one, you’ll see many, because these beautiful creatures travel in large groups. The flocks on the Galápagos congregate in warm areas near estuaries and lakes. They can reach up to six-feet tall, and they have particularly bright pink feathers, thanks to the vivid color of the shrimplike crustaceans they eat.

    Photo by Michaela Trimble
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    Blue-Footed Boobies
    Blue-footed boobies are plentiful in the Galápagos, and many nest on North Seymour Island. These birds are excellent swimmers, and they dive deep to find their prey, usually anchovies. The bluer the males’ feet, the more attractive they are to prospective mates.

    Photo by Michaela Trimble
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    Galápagos Sea Lions
    Galápagos sea lions are a particular species only found on these islands. Although they breed in small numbers, they are one of the most populous species in the archipelago. They are very playful, and whether they are sunbathing on volcanic rocks or shading themselves under trees, they seem to have no fear of being close to humans. The males, known as bulls, can reach up to seven-feet long and weigh over 800 pounds.

    Photo by Michaela Trimble
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    Magnificent Frigate Birds
    The magnificent frigate bird, the largest species of frigate bird, can grow up to 45 inches long. Just like the great frigate bird, magnificent frigate bird males have a gular sac that they inflate during mating season. The best way to tell these two species apart is by trying to spot their young: Magnificent frigate bird youth have white heads and black bodies, while great frigate bird young have brown heads and black bodies.

    Photo by Michaela Trimble
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    Lava Lizards
    Lava lizards are the most abundant reptiles on the Galápagos Islands, and unlike typical lizards found elsewhere, they rarely seem fearful when humans get near (a trait they share with many other species in these islands). This means you can get an up-close view of the lizards, which typically grow to about six inches in length. The seven species of lava lizards on the islands each evolved in different ways.

    Photo by Michaela Trimble
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