Galapagos Protected Area Expansion & Weather Guide

The Newly Expanded Protected Area of the Galapagos (January 2022)!

We were excited to see that on January 14, 2022, Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso announced plans for a large new section of protected area to be added around the Galapagos Islands! Once completed, the protected area in the Galapagos will be a whopping 50% larger AND will officially be one of the world’s largest marine reserves, guaranteeing the survival of 40% of the world’s marine species. The announcement of these plans came shortly after an agreement was struck between President Lasso and the leaders of Columbia, Costa Rica and Panama at the UN Summit in Glasgow, vowing to create a vast area of wildlife protection spanning the territorial waters of the four countries.

A corridor of water stretching up to the Costa Rican Island of Cocos will now be patrolled by boats from the Galapagos National Park, with all patrols including a member of the Ecuadorian navy on board. The new reserve will be approximately 60,000 square kilometers (23,000 square miles – roughly the size of the state of West Virginia!) and will be enforced beginning in June 2022. New regulations imposed in order to protect the wildlife include a ban on fishing across the main migration route within the reserve. This ban includes longline fishing, a method that regularly harms dolphins and turtles. These new restrictions will protect many endangered species, including the green turtle, say marine biologists.

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Please use this guide as a reference point for planning your Galapagos cruising.

 

The Galapagos Islands are a year-round destination with two distinct seasons, each with its own unique characteristics. Though the Galapagos is on the equator, the water is not tropical (hence its unique wildlife!). Sea lion pups are born year=round with variations depending on the island. Frigatebirds with puffed pouches and booby mating dances can also be seen year-round. The water temperature can vary dramatically between the east and west sides of the archipelago, with the west being noticeably cooler. The eastern side can get up to 80 °F in March and April (especially in an El Niño year).

 

Annual Temperature Range: 68 ° – 90 °F

Warm Season: December – May

Cool/Dry Season: June – November

Warm Season: December – May

Between December and May, the Galapagos’ climate is more tropical with daily rain and cloudier skies. The ocean temperature is warmer, which is ideal for swimming and snorkeling.

Species more prevalent in the warm season include marine iguanas (this is their mating season), sea turtles, land iguanas, flamingos, white-cheeked pintails, masked boobies, marine iguanas, mating albatross, and blue-footed boobies. Snorkeling will be far more enjoyable during these months.

Cool/Dry Season: June – November

From June to December, southern trade winds bring the cold Humboldt Current north to the Galapagos. The water is cooler, and the garua fog is more prevalent in the islands.

Higher elevations on the larger islands receive moisture via the pervasive mist, retaining their lush green scenery.  At sea level, however, there is little precipitation. For this reason, June to December is generally considered the “dry season”. There can still be the occasional shower, but generally blue skies prevail. In July, seas are a bit calmer, while in August temperatures start to drop towards the end of the month.

Species more prevalent in the dry season include giant tortoises, humpback whales, blue-footed boobies, cormorants, oystercatchers, lava lizards, Galapagos hawks, masked boobies, swallow-tailed gulls, sea lions, lava herons, brown noddies, baby chicks hatched and growing, penguins, and albatross babies leaving with their parents.

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