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Galapagos Penguin
Similar Birds:
 Humboldt Penguin
 Magellanic Penguin
 African Penguin

Galapagos Penguin
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Photographer: Per-Gunnar Ostby of www.pgoimages.com

Galapagos Penguin Range Map (Galapagos Islands)
Galapagos Penguin Range Map (Galapagos Islands)

Latin Name Spheniscus mendiculus
Conservation Status Endangered
Location Galapagos Islands
Colour Black & White
Height 50 cm (19.6 inches)
Weight 2.2 Kgs (4.8 lbs)
Life Expectancy 15 - 20 Yrs

Main Characteristics

Galapagos Penguins are the smallest South American penguin. They are approximately 50 cms (19.6 inches) in height and they weigh approximately 2.2 kgs (4.8 lbs).

Their head and upperparts are black, their underparts are white surrounded by a black inverted horseshoe shape and they have a thin white line that curves from their eye down to their throat. They have dark coloured feet and a slender bill.

Prior to breeding Galapagos penguins moult. They may moult up to twice in one year and during this time they avoid going into the sea. However, because the waters in which they swim are warm, a penguin that becomes underweight will go to sea to feed rather than risk starvation.

During the day they spend a large amount of time in the sea to keep cool and when on land they hold their flippers away from their body to maximize heat loss.


Galapagos Penguins are mainly found on Fernandina Island and on the west coast of Isabella Island, but small populations are also found scattered on other islands in the Galapagos archipelago.


Galapagos Penguins feed on small fish including mullet and sardines.


Galapagos Penguins pair up for life and they will breed 2 - 3 times per year if food is plentiful. They lay 1 - 2 eggs in a cave or rock crevice to protect them from the sunlight. The eggs are incubated by both parents for 38 - 40 days but if both eggs hatch, only one chick is ever raised.

One parent always remains with the eggs or chick while the other one leaves to feed. For 30 days after hatching both parents tend to the chick and by the end of the 30 days the chick is able to be left while both adults go to sea.

When the chick is 60 - 65 days old they have moulted and are ready to fledge. Females reach sexual maturity at 3 - 4 years of age and males at 4 - 6 years of age.


Predators of Galapagos Penguins and their young include crabs, snakes, birds of prey, cats, dogs, rats, sharks, seals and sea lions.


There are no subspecies of the Galapagos Penguin.

Interesting Facts

Galapagos Penguins are one of the world's rarest penguins with an estimated population of less than 2,000 breeding pairs.

Galapagos Penguins are the only penguin to live on the equator.

The closest relatives to the Galapagos Penguin are:
African Penguin
Magellanic Penguin
Humboldt Penguin

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