When the Galápagos penguin has all its friends on one island, there is trouble.
- Galápagos penguins are a species of penguin native exclusively to the Galápagos Islands, in the Pacific Ocean near Ecuador.
- The scientific name of the Galápagos penguin is Spheniscus mendiculus and it is from the family Spheniscidae, the family of penguins, and it is the sole species of penguin to exist above the equator.
- Galápagos penguins are among the smallest penguins and generally range from 48 to 53 centimetres (19 to 21 inches) in height and 1.7 to 2.5 kilograms (3.7 to 5.5 pounds) in weight.
- Galápagos penguins are a black colour with a white belly, and they have a thin white band coming from the eyes to the neck, and one that surrounds their belly.
- The diet of Galápagos penguins consists primarily of small fish like pilchards, mullets and sardines, but also the occasional small crustacean.
Some Galápagos penguins
Image courtesy of zpics/Flickr
- Galápagos penguins have a particularly low population, estimated to be between 1000 and 2000 individuals, making it the species with the smallest number of penguins in the world.
- Galápagos penguins are of an endangered status, with threats listed as oil pollution; fishing by humans; introduced pests and predators, including mosquitoes and cats; and the natural El Nino phenomenon, which reduces the quantity of food available to the penguins.
- Keeping body heat cool is a major concern for the Galápagos penguin when not in water, so they expel heat through panting, resting in shade, spreading flippers out wide, and hunching over to keep their feet shaded.
- Galápagos penguins build nests in cavities or protected areas among rocks, using a variety of items, and they mate for life, producing one to two eggs in the season, though only one chick may survive, and the parents share the responsibility of looking after the chick/s.
- The lifespan of a Galápagos penguin is up to 15 to 20 years, though reaching this age is not common due to the high number of predators the bird has on land and in water, including seals, large fish, crabs, snakes, rats and large birds.