North Seymour Island was the first island in the Galápagos Islands where we took our first land-based day-tour and it did not disappoint! We chose North Seymour for the chance to see a lot of the unique wildlife there – especially birds.
From where we were based in the town of Puerto Ayora in south Santa Cruz Island, a 45-minute bus to the north of the island took us to the Canal of Itacaba, where the boat to North Seymour departed. After 45-minutes on the boat, we spotted shore!
While the island itself was very flat, its shores were very rocky and wavy as you would expect from the volcanic Galápagos Islands. It took the dinghy boat a few tries to fight the waves and allow us to disembark, but it was really exciting when we stepped foot onto the island to start exploring! Our naturalist guide took us around the paths along the island where we saw all the wildlife we had expected from North Seymour and more. Some highlights below, and we hope the pictures are worth a thousand words.
Yellow Land Iguanas
These are a specialty on North Seymour and we spotted one pretty soon after we landed. Most of the inner island is dry and arid, filled with cacti and dry bush, which is perfect iguana habitat. We saw a bunch of females first, mostly lounging in the shade.
The male iguana of the group was on the move and prowling around his territory. Male land iguana are particularly colorful – in this case, bright yellow.
A little down the path, we spotted another male iguana sitting so still as if it was being paid to pose for photographs. Naturally we all took a ton of pictures from every angle.
It was incredible to be able to get that close to these iguanas (and all wildlife in the Galápagos!) and practically see every scale on its body in close detail. We were beyond thrilled.
Frigate birds are some of the strangest birds I’ve ever witnessed. The cool part about North Seymour is that we got to see frigate birds in several stages of growth and behaviour. First, a baby frigate that was super fuzzy and adorable:
Then a slightly older and bigger one, but still fuzzy and a chick:
In another part of the island, there were grown frigates. Males are known for their red gular pouch (throat skin), which they inflate during mating season to attract females.
Considering it wasn’t mating season, we weren’t sure we’d see any inflated males, but we got lucky and spotted one!
Weird-looking, right? One of the main goals for us in the Galápagos was to see unique wildlife, and this certainly fit the bill.
Besides frigate birds, we were also counting on North Seymour to spot blue-footed boobies. As their name suggested, they have fabulously distinctive blue feet.
What struck me as particularly entertaining was that these boobies were always standing on rocks, as if they knew they wanted a pedestal upon which to display their feet. The more blue a male’s feet are, the more attractive they are to females. Males will strut and lift their feet up and down to show them off during mating season.
There are also red-footed boobies in the Galápagos Island – we saw those on San Cristóbal Island.
Besides the yellow land iguanas, there were also marine iguanas by the coast. We caught some good portraits with the ocean background like this one with our new telephoto lens:
Sometimes there was more than one:
Marine iguanas are pretty common throughout all Galápagos Islands and we’ve lost count of how many we’ve seen of all shapes and sizes.
And of course, there were sea lions on North Seymour, too (they’re everywhere!). Since North Seymour was our first island, we were super excited to get up close and personal with them.
Most of them were lounging around the rocks and sleeping.
There was an adorable pair of mom and nursing pup that was heartwarming:
At that time, we had no idea how many sea lions we would end up seeing total.
North Seymour was an amazing introduction to the Galápagos Islands. We were on such a high after the first day and checking off a bunch of the wildlife we wanted to see off the list. Next up: Bartolomé Island!