Galapagos penguins are one of the most rare and the most endangered species among all penguins. Also, these penguins are the only ones that inhabit the equator.
They are called Galapagos because they inhabit the land of Galapagos. Also, unlike other penguins that are mostly present in cold regions, these penguins have evolved and have special adaptations to thrive in the warmer regions of the Galapagos as well.
When the land of Galapagos brings cold sea currents, they are full of young fish and sardines. Hence, it is the best time to mate and reproduce. These penguins also molt and feed their young ones through the abundance of the food.
When there is not enough food, due to warmer water, these penguins have nothing to eat. So, they do not continue to breed, and even if they have to, they also leave their young ones.
Why are these species endangered? The answer is obvious. These penguins have very few places to thrive and inhabit. Most of the nests in Galapagos are either too old, let’s say foutty years. Also, it is a very rainy land so most of the nests are destroyed due to the flooding of sea waves.
Nests are usually built up of rocks melted up by lava. Sometimes they also build nests in the holes and caves of the slopes.
The Galapagos penguin is one of the smallest species of penguins in the whole world. It’s a flightless bird and endemic to the Galapagos Islands. Galapagos penguins are the rarest out of 18 known species of penguins as they are the only penguins that live on the equator and molt twice a year.
If we talk about the size and appearance of Galapagos penguins, they are about 21 inches in length and 4 to 6 pounds in weight, Females being slightly smaller than males.
They have black coats on their heads with white marking on the belly, head, and underside of the flippers. Galapagos penguins live in caves and crevices in the coastal lava. They use body movements and some vocalizations to communicate greetings and emotions.
Specific movements and vocalizations help them identify their partners. Galapagos penguins tend to make bonds with one partner for life, and their strong emotions reinforce them to last the relationship till death.
Galapagos penguin diet
Galapagos penguins’ diet includes small fishes such as sardines and mullet. Their food is dependent on the ocean currents that bring fishes and other eatables to their feeding grounds. About 20 years ago, severe weather from El Nino resulted in a massive shortage of food. More than 70% of the Galapagos penguins died at that time. Galapagos penguins are carnivores (piscivores), so they love to eat small marine invertebrates, as well as pilchards and anchovies.
Galapagos penguin facts
Galapagos penguins are the smallest species of penguins present in South America. These penguins are only present in South America and do not inhabit any other area of the world. Galapagos penguins are also the only species that can survive the equator and Northern hemisphere’s scorching heat. As a unique penguin species, below are some interesting facts that you may not know before about these penguins:
- Galapagos penguins are small penguins with a height of nineteen or twenty inches. Their weight fluctuates during different seasons; however, the average weight is four pounds to eight pounds.
- Like other penguins, they have black plumage on the head and the back while the inner parts are white.
- Galapagos penguins have white lines that surround their eyes and to the back of their throats.
- These penguins also have bare patches to let excess heat escape around their eyes and at the base of their beaks.
- Galápagos habitat differs from other penguins in a way that they live in such areas where wind temperature is low as compared to the water temperature.
- Galapagos keep their flippers outward, and they hop just on their toes to prevent their feet from getting sunburns.
- Galapagos penguins, unlike other penguins, do not swim much because the ocean currents provide them with plenty of food.
- Predators of Galapagos penguins include hawks, owls, eagles, snakes, sharks, and seals.
- Breeding and mating seasons are dependent on food availability and climate. Usually, the breeding season falls between May to January.
- Female lays two eggs at a time in the depressions that are the products of volcanic lava.
- Both mother and father share the nesting responsibilities, and the egg hatches after forty days.
- Galapagos penguins are able to survive the harshness of the wild for fifteen to twenty years.
Galapagos penguin habitat
Small-sized Galapagos penguins are restricted to Galapagos Islands. These islands extend along the equator. Galapagos penguins live in coastal areas and resemble those penguins that inhabit warm habitats. However, even though Galapagos is a region present on the equator, the Cold Cromwell current brings cold water and also the high energy-packed food. Hence, Galapagos penguins do not have to dive in deep waters to gather food.
Galapagos penguin adaptations
Like other penguins, Galapagos penguins have evolved from several years. The traits transferred from generation to generation, and thus we see the current form of Galapagos penguins. Some people may wonder why they change? Well, this is a process of natural selection, in which the best traits are preserved, and they discard those traits which are causing hindrances in survival. Below are some adaptations which Galapagos penguins have adopted by the time to survive.
- Galapagos penguins are small-sized penguins and are only twenty inches tall.
- Due to their small size, they do not have to eat and preserve a lot of food.
- A smaller body with upright posture makes swimming faster and easier.
- The small size also helps these penguins to survive in minimal space.
- The fins of Galapagos penguins are well-adapted to swim fast in the water.
- Galapagos penguins survive in warm climates; therefore, they also use their flippers to get shade.
- Galápagos penguins survive in the warm climate. Therefore it is not possible for them to survive on hot volcanic rocks. Otherwise, their feet will burn. Consequently, they use their flippers to save their feet.
- Galapagos penguins sleep while pointing their flippers outwards. In this way, they preserve the heat when temperatures get low.
- The webbed feet of Galapagos penguins make them capable of swimming quickly in ocean currents.
- Their unique plumage provides them with excellent camouflage, black on the top, and white on the inside. In this way, they blend seamlessly into the water.
Breeding Galapagos penguin adaptations:
- When breeding season approaches, they gather on seashores to get noticed. In this way, it becomes easier to find a mate.
- Galapagos penguins are monogamous.
- Galapagos penguins can mate throughout the year, and the mating depends upon the availability of food and climate. Breeding occurs only in favorable conditions.
- Before breeding, the process of molting takes place. In this process, penguins lose their plumage and gain weight for the birth.
- The incubation period is almost thirty-eight days. Both parents take incubation responsibilities.
- Chicks depend on their parents for almost a month after hatching. In this way, they are protected from predators, and they also learn some necessary surviving skills.
- Parent penguins prefer to feed and take care of only that chick that is stronger and healthy.
Adaptations behavior in Galapagos penguin:
- Penguins are carnivores animals, as they do not live in such habitats where they can find plant content. So, they have evolved to be carnivores.
- As they are present near oceans, they have restricted their diet mainly to marine animals like fish, krill, and squid.
- The Galapagos penguins are excellent swimmers, and that is the only way through which they can collect food from the sea.
- Being social animals provides a significant edge to Galapagos penguins. Their social behavior saves them from many threats, and predators, also, they gather more food in the form of colonies.
- By the time, Galapagos penguins become excellent in vocal communication. This communication helps them in locating their chicks as well as their mates.
Galapagos penguin lifespan
Like other penguins, Galapagos penguins also face many threats: predation, climate risks, scarcity of food, habitat destruction, and much more. Therefore, they are not able to live for extended periods in the wild. Galapagos penguins can live for fifteen to twenty years in the wild. Due to several threats and risks, they do not live long.
Galapagos penguin fun facts
Below are some fun facts regarding Galapagos penguins:
- Galapagos penguins are small penguin species that can grow up to nineteen and twenty inches.
- Galapagos penguins weigh about eight or nine pounds.
- Both males and females are monomorphic, but males are larger in size than females.
- Galapagos penguins are monogamous.
- Galapagos penguins do have bare patches on their eyes and beak so that they are able to regulate their body temperatures.
How many Galapagos penguins are left?
As Galapagos penguins are only endemic to Southern America, Galapagos Islands. Therefore, they are not present in abundance. According to believers, there are only six hundred breeding pairs present in the world. So according to the IUCN red list, Galapagos penguins are under consideration as they are already lesser in number and they face a lot of threats too.
Why are Galapagos penguins going extinct?
Galapagos penguins, according to the IUCN red list, face several threats and risks like predation, habitat loss, severe climate, scarcity of food, and many more. Therefore, harsh conditions like when the water temperature increases, the Galapagos penguins are unable to grab their feed, and they also do not have enough to eat.
Therefore, they do not breed, and if they do so then they abandon their juveniles due to lack of food That is why these penguins are present in the endangered list of anima
Galapagos penguins, according to the IUCN red list, face several threats and risks like predation, habitat loss, severe climate, scarcity of food, and many more. Therefore, harsh conditions like when the temperature of the water increases, the Galapagos penguins are unable to grab their feed, and they also do not have enough to eat. Therefore, they do not breed, and if they do so then they abandon their juveniles due to lack of food
That is why these penguins are present in the endangered list of animals.
Do animals live on Galapagos islands?
Galapagos penguins are the only penguins that inhabit the Galapagos Islands. These penguins are famous due to their presence in the equator, and in such warm and temperate land. Galapagos penguins except the Galapagos Islands are not present anywhere else. Therefore, these species are endemic and also endangered.
Galapagos penguin population
Galapagos penguins are only present on Galapagos islands; therefore, the species do not have mesmerizing numbers. According to the IUCN list of animal conservation and threatened species, the total number of Galapagos penguins present in the world is almost three thousand or eight thousand. That explains, on an average only eight-hundred breeding pairs are there.