Galapagos penguins comprise a species of penguin that
live only on and by, as their name suggests, the Galapagos
Islands. They are listed as an endangered species by
the IUCN; there are only about 1,200 Galapagos Penguins
left in the world. They are the only species of penguin
that lives north of the Equator.
The vast majority of Galapagos Penguins live by and
on the coast of Isabela Island, the largest island in
the archipelago. Some of their population, however,
may be found by and on the coasts of Santiago Island
and Floreana Island.They tend to remain near the Cromwell
Current during the day to stay cool, and travel to land
during the night.
On average, Galapagos Penguins measure 19 inches in
length and weigh 5.5 pounds, making them the third smallest
species of penguin in the world. Their heads are black
with white markings; the upper parts of their bodies
are black or dark grey; and the lower parts of their
bodies are white. Adult Galapagos Penguins have two
black bands across their breasts.
Being quite small, Galapagos Penguins have a number
of natural predators; they usually fall prey to crabs,
rats, snakes, predatory birds, seals, sea lions, and
sharks. Human and volcanic activity, although they cannot
be considered predators, also threaten the birds' population.
Galapagos Penguins themselves feed on several species
of small and thin schooling fish, including anchovies
Before they mate, Galapagos Penguins molt, with the
exception of unpaired males, who may molt during the
breeding season. Galapagos Penguins will adjust their
eating habits so as to gain weight for about a month
before molting, as the process of molting consumes a
large amount of energy. After this period ends, the
birds molt and preen for about two weeks.
Galapagos Penguins mate in pairs that they choose for
life. They tend to start breeding when the water cools
to about 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Galapagos Penguins make
nests fairly close to the shore. Both penguins in each
pair of parents incubate one or two eggs in their nest
for 38-40 days, after which the egg(s) hatch. For about
a month after an egg hatches, the young are not left
alone, and their parents alternate guarding the chicks
and retrieving food.
Presently, Galapagos Penguins as a species are threatened
by climate change, ENSO, disease, predation, volcanic
activity, unreliable food sources, infrastructures that
promote tourism, and the hazard posed by illegal fishing.
The life span of Galapagos Penguins is 15-20 years.