What Species of the Galapagos Islands Have Disappeared?

Jonah Lester

Between the species from the Galapagos Islands that have disappeared Fifteen stand out, which made up the endemic fauna and flora of these islands of Ecuador. According to the Directorate of the Galapagos National Park, there are three species of plants, and twelve species of vertebrate animals.

During the 18th and 19th centuries, Spanish ships took the Galapagos as a place of resupply, turtle meat being one of the most precious products for long voyages..

This, together with the introduction of non-autochthonous specimens that competed for food with the species of the islands, was the fuse for some of these extinctions. Climate changes also influenced the disappearance or critical status of some animals. 

Species of the Galapagos Islands that have become extinct

1- Galapagos giant tortoise

The last copy of Geochelone Abigdoni, the lonely George, died in 2012, possibly from cardiac arrest.

Investigations carried out estimate that 300,000 turtles of this and other species were hunted to supply Spanish ships in the 18th and 19th centuries..

2- Vermilion Robin of San Cristóbal

Pyrocephalus rubinus dubius, It is the first bird to become extinct on the islands. It lived on the island of San Cristóbal and since 1987 it has not been seen in its habitat.

It is believed that rats and parasitic flies, (two species introduced by man in a non-voluntary way), were the causes of its disappearance.

3- Darwin's mouse

Aegialomys Galapagoensis. Its habitat was subtropical and tropical dry grasslands. It was found on the island of San Cristóbal, where Darwin captured several specimens in 1855. Decades after its stay on the islands it was considered extinct.

4- Indefatigable mouse of the Galapagos

Nesoryzomys Indefessus. It was also known as the Santa Cruz mouse. It took its name because the island was previously called Indefatigable. It is believed that their extinction was due to the introduction into their habitat of the black rat.

5- Marine iguanas

Four of the species of marine iguanas that inhabit only the Galapagos are considered extinct.

Its loss surely has to do with introduced species such as dogs, cats, pigs and rats. Important campaigns are being carried out to conserve those that remain.

6- green turtle

Chelonia mydas, Although it is not totally extinct, it is one of the species that is in a very critical state.

Its main predators are birds, dogs, cats and crabs. In Galapagos, great efforts are being made to reverse their plight.

7- Galápagos hawk

Buteo Galapagoensis. This bird joins the species that are in critical condition. Inhabits the Fernandina and Isabela islands.

8- Darwin's finches

Camarhynchus Heliobates or Mangrove finch, inhabits the mangroves of the Fernandina and Isabela islands. It is in serious danger of extinction.

9- Galapagos Petrel

Phaeopygia Pterodroma. It lives in the highlands of the islands of San Cristóbal, Santa Cruz, Santiago, Floreana and Isabela.

Few specimens remain and efforts are being made to repopulate them in breeding stations.

10- Galapagos Penguin

Spheniscus Mendiculus. The Galapagos penguin is being seriously threatened by the dogs of the islands and the lack of food.

11- Galapagos Albatross

Phoebastria Irrorata. It lives on the island of Española. Also called wavy albatross, it is the only one of its kind that inhabits the tropics.

Lack of food, due to illegal fishing, is their main enemy. An action plan is being put in place to recover it.


In the Galapagos Islands 180 species of endemic plants were registered a few years ago. Today, nine of these species do not present registration data and it is estimated that three have completely disappeared.

This is due to the constant arrival of tourists to the island and the climatic changes that affect the ecosystem of the islands..

Other species at risk

Historically, it is estimated that there are 45 species that are at risk of disappearing or have disappeared from the Galapagos Islands during the last centuries..

This situation represents a high risk for the islands, since they are an area with little biodiversity and are located at a great distance from the nearest island..

7% of the vertebrate species in Galapagos are in danger of extinction. This includes three species of reptiles (two turtles and a snake), and four species of birds (Mangrove finch, Galapagos Petrel, Floreana Thrush, and Galapagos Albatross).

Apart from these species, there are others at lower risk but which must also be protected as they are in a state of vulnerability. These species include 17 types of reptiles, 9 types of birds, and 5 types of mammals..

Within the invertebrate species, the Galapagos land snail can be found, along with different types of moths and butterflies..

In this way, it is considered that of the 103 species of invertebrates that inhabit the Islands, two are already extinct, 26 are at high risk, nine are critically endangered, 26 are in a state of vulnerability and 40 are out of danger..

In 2007 it was determined that within the species of plants that inhabit the Galapagos Islands, there are 20 that are in critical condition, four of them are found on the inhabited islands, where tourism takes place..

In this way, the main threat that endemic species of Galapagos must face is the introduction of new invasive species of both plants and mammals..

On the other hand, the typical marine fauna species of the islands are at risk due to human activity.

In this way, dolphins, fish, whales, pinnipeds, marine reptiles and sharks are at risk of disappearing due to activities related to tourism and climate change..

In 2007 it was determined that 6% of the Galapagos marine species are at critical risk of extinction, 13% are at high risk and 31% are in a state of vulnerability..


  1. 16 animal species became extinct during the last four decades - (Jul / 2012) - Collected from la-razon.com.
  2. Lizards, iguanas, turtles and evolution slapping your face - (August / 2011) - Collected from naukas.com.
  3. In Galapagos we seek to recover extinct species - (August / 2011) - Collected from eluniverso.com.
  4. Endangered species - (July / 2017) Collected from Islasgalapagos.co.
  5. The Galapagos Islands are in danger - (August / 2009) blogs.funiber.org.

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