The guano-covered Ballestas Islands off the coast of Paracas are home to a large population of endangered or otherwise threatened birds and mammals. These islands and the rest of the Paracas Wildlife Reserve create a safe place for these creatures to live, breed and play. Here are some of the Native Animals of Ballestas Islands you can expect to see in their natural habitats on a tour of the islands.
>Humboldt Penguins make their homes in burrows in the centuries old guano that cakes the islands. The value of guano as fertilizer and climate change has endangered their habitat, and they are vulnerable to extinction. However, nature preserves such as these islands have done much to preserve the species. The Humboldt Penguin is the only penguin native to Peru, and lives the farthest north of any penguin species except the Galapagos Penguin.
Also known as the “South American Sea Lion” The Sea Wolf was once worshiped by the ancient Moche Civilization as gods and spirits of the sea, venerated by fishermen to keep them safe and deliver fish. The males sport an impressive mane and are extremely territorial. Though they are slow-moving on land, the Sea Wolf is a very effective predator in the ocean. The Sea Wolves will often come and play around tour boats, and at the right time of day their barks and calls will create a deafening chorus ringing from every corner of the islands.
In early spring (August to October) Humpback whales can be seen on their way north for mating season. Though once nearly extinct, these majestic creatures have made a remarkable recovery to stable populations and are an inspiring success story for modern conservation efforts.
A type of cormorant, this bird is essential to the production of guano, often used as fertilizer, that is so essential to the ecology of the islands. Overfishing and habitat loss has begun to take its toll on these large birds, which could easily lead to environmental collapse on the islands.
If you are lucky, you may be able to catch a glimpse of this rare species of otter, which is the smallest mammal that lives exclusively in saltwater. Also known as Gato Marino or “Sea Cat”, very little is known about this elusive creature, including the number remaining in the wild. Both poaching and hunting to protect fish stocks threaten the marine otter, making nature reserves such as this essential to their continued survival.
The Ballestas Islands are covered with a mind-boggling array of seabirds, including gulls, terns, pelicans, and boobies. They all help create the massive layers of guano that often completely obscure the rocks that create the islands and provide a home for the penguins.
A tour of the Ballestas Islands and their fascinating wildlife can be booked cheaply through our partner FindLocalTrips.com at the end of this page. FindLocalTrips.com is an excellent service for discovering, comparing, and booking tours in Latin America. They check all tours posted on their site for safety and service, so you don’t get any unpleasant surprises on your trip.
While planning your trip to the scenic Little beach town of Paracas and its surrounding area, it is essential to plan ahead and to know as much as you can. So, in order to provide you the best experience check out Paracas official website
Paracas, the stepping off point for Ballestas Islands tours and a beautiful vacation destination in its own right, is the first stop on Peru Hop’s routes and is also available as a day trip from Lima with a Ballestas Islands tour included. For info on our flexible hop on hop off passes click here, and for info on convenient day trips from Lima click here.