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Galapagos Penguin

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Size

Height: 53 cm (19 inches) for the average adult.

Weight: 2 to 2.5 kg (4 to 5 lbs) for the average adult.
Females are slightly smaller than males
Galapagos Penguin is two-thirds the size of it's banded penguins cousins.

Description

  • Black and White.
  • Smallest of the banded penguins.
  • Small size and less dense plumage allow better heat dissipation in tropical climate.
  • Bill is large, black top, almost white bottom, with bare pink skin at base.
  • White line surrounding its black face is thinner than on other banded penguins.
  • Juveniles covered with grey down, black and white markings appear at age two.

Feet

  • Black.

Food

  • Sardines, anchovies & mullet.
  • It is possible for this penguin to live in the tropics because of the cold, nutrient-rich water that rises to the surface at the equator providing the fish this penguin needs to survive.
  • They forage close to the coastline near their colonies departing sunrise returning at sunset. The reason Galapagos Penguins forage close to the coast, which is unique among penguins, is thought to be avoidance of predation by numerous shark species found in the Galapagos Islands. Limited feeding range and not migrating makes them vulnerable to local food and environmental changes.

Rookeries

  • The Galapagos Islands, just below the equator in the Pacific Ocean, approximately 600 miles from Ecuador.
  • Nests in crevices and under volcanic rocks or small lava tubes at sea level in the shade. It will also burrow where digging is possible.
  • In these lava nests guano from previous seasons smoothes the roughness on the rocks for the eggs to rest on. High waves often flood the nests at sea level.

Breading

  • Breed all year round in small colonies or alone.
  • Once a pair bond is established it is often maintained.
  • Most moult before breeding and often moult more than once a year. This is thought to be due to high plumage wear due to the tropical sun.
  • Preening is seen near breeding time.
  • Only the banded penguins exhibit a behavior between pairs that first involves “dancing” then clacking their bills together called “bill dueling.”
  • The male performs flipper-patting before breeding takes place.
  • The females often return to their nest sites for breeding and when not breeding.
  • The female lay 2 eggs 3 to 4 days apart but under normal conditions the second egg does not hatch.
  • All 4 Banded Penguins lay 2 eggs but usually rear only one chick.
  • Both parents take turns incubating the egg for approximately 38 days.
  • During the first 15 days the chicks are brooded until they are able to maintain their own body temperature and protect themselves against predation.
  • When water temperatures are higher and food becomes scarce chicks may be abandoned.
  • Unlike other penguin species these do not form crèches.
  • Vocalizations are not as important for the nest is the meeting point.

Predators

  • Crabs
  • Hawks
  • Sharks
  • Non-natvie predators: feral cats, dogs & humans.
  • Oil spills
  • Disease outbreaks
  • Weather as high waves flood nests at sea level.

Interesting Facts

  • Galapagos Penguins are very sensitive to weather conditions. El Nino’s, which raise the sea temperature, have increased and this is taking its toll on the Galapagos Penguins. With the frequency and intensity of El Nino apparently on the rise, their small population has a 30% change of becoming extinct this century. Oil spills, disease outbreaks and the presence of non-native predators such as feral cats and rats makes this penguin’s survival look even bleaker.
  • Only tropical species in the penguin family made possible by the cold, nutrient-rich water that rises to the surface at the equator providing this close to shore feeder with the fish it needs to survive.
  • **One of 4 Banded Penguins Species: 1. Magellan Penguin 2. African Penguin 3. Humboldt Penguin 4. Galapagos Penguin

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