Galapagos wildlife: Tortoises

All photos: Francis Capilitan/500px

After an exciting expedition to the Galápagos Islands last month, freelance photographer Francis Capilitan returned to his home in Buckeye, Ariz., with some extraordinary images of the diverse range of wildlife he encountered.

Located 575 miles off the coast of Ecuador, this remote volcanic archipelago is famous as the birthplace of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection.

One of the most notable creatures living on this fascinating chain of islands is the Galápagos tortoise (above), which is the largest living species of tortoise and one of the longest-lived vertebrates on the planet. These beloved tortoises are just one community within a greater ecosystem filled with sea lions, crabs, iguanas and, of course, lots and lots of birds.

A few of the animals Capilitan documented on his trip can be found below, along with his comments on how he got each shot. Be sure to visit Capilitan's 500px portfolio to see more of his outstanding work!

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Galapagos wildlife: Sally Lightfoot crabs in the surf

Sally lightfoot crabs

"My first experimentation working with waves and animals."

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Galapagos wildlife: Night heron

Yellow-crowned night heron

"The first surprise of many on the expedition. This Yellow-crowned Night Heron went after a crab in plain sight. Made for a very unique opportunity that I'm glad I captured."

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Galapagos wildlife: Baby seal

Galapagos sea lions

"Sun bathing on one of the many white beaches of Isla Espanola."

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Galapagos wildlife: Lava lizard

Lava lizard

"Experimentation with angles. Before I would just keep standing while taking pictures. I got flat to the ground for this one and I like how it turned out."

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Galapagos wildlife: Sally lightfoot crab

Sally lightfoot crab

"I got the shutter speed at the right speed for when the wave came washing over this crab to get both a glossy water and the fine sand washing everywhere. Bonus points for the water spilling around and over the crab itself. Never done something like this before."

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Galapagos wildlife: Mockingbird

Española Mockingbird

"The bird hopped into some nearby foliage creating this capture. I'm especially glad it did just that."

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Galapagos wildlife: Seal

Galápagos sea lion

"This guy sat on a rocky outcrop above where the zodiac was cruising. I would've been nuts not to have snapped the picture."

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Galapagos wildlife: Marine iguanas

Marine iguana

"Caught them resting in the last rays of sunlight."

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Galapagos wildlife: Lava gull

Lava gull

"There were a bunch of them around the rocks, but this one was the most curious & least photo finicky."

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Catie Leary is a photo editor at Mother Nature Network. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.

Catie Leary ( @catieleary ) writes about science, travel, animals and the arts.

Hotbed of biodiversity: Fascinating images of wildlife from the Galapagos Islands
Photographer returns home from the Galápagos Islands with a wealth of extraordinary wildlife images.