Galapagos Island Penguins

Galapagos Island penguins (Spheniscus mendiculus) are endemic to this Archipelago. They live in the hot tropics of the Equator.


These penguins are the smallest in the world, and they live 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador right in the Galapagos Islands.

Galapagos Penguins

galapagos island penguins

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The biggest populations can be seen mainly on the islands of Fernandina and Isabela. They are also present in small numbers in the Islands of Bartolome, Santa Cruz and Floreana

Penguins General Description:

The Galapagos Island penguins are about 50 cm tall and weight around 5 lb. They have a thin white band that runs from the eye to under their chin.

These penguins have a black head and a black band that runs in an upside-down horseshoe shape around their stomachs which extends down to their legs. The female penguins are smaller than the males but have a similar structure.

Galapagos Island penguins are similar to the Magellanic penguins except that the black band in the Galapagos penguin is thinner and they are smaller in size.

The penguins in the Galapagos Islands were brought by the Humboldt Current, which is composed by cold waters and nutrients coming from the Antarctica.

The Galapagos penguins enter into the water to cool off form the strong Equator sun and they swim slowly and graciously just with their heads above the water.

But when they are looking for food they can submerge into the water using its flippers and feet to gain a great speed.

In most cases they look for food close to shore and feed mostly on small fish such as sardines and mullet which are caught while they swim and dive in the Ocean.

Penguins feed only during the day and depend on the cold nutrient-rich ocean currents such as the Humboldt Current to bring fish for their feeding.

In 1987 the NiƱo Current was devastating for Galapagos penguins, almost 75% of the penguin population died because of a severe lack of food due to this tremendous Ocean current.

Less than 1,000 pairs are now living in the islands and that's why the Galapagos Island penguins are considered and endangered species.

On land the Galapagos penguin must be aware of its predators such as snakes, Galapagos Crabs also the Galapagos Hawk and from introduced animals like dogs, cats and rats.

And at the sea the penguins can be and excellent meal for: Galapagos Fur Seals, Galapagos Sharks and Galapagos Sea Lions

Besides the above dangers the Galapagos penguins have also to take care of their eggs that are laid under the lava rocks.

And also have to take care of their chicks which will be with their parents for around 60 days until they can feed for themselves in the sea.

The next time you visit the Galapagos Islands don't miss the incredible opportunity to see these gracious Galapagos Island penguins living in the tropics of the Equator.

Recommended Reading

Ecuador & Galapagos (Insight Guides)

Ecuador & Galapagos (Insight Guides)
With 250 photos and tons of great information, this is an essential addition to your pre-Ecuador and -Galapagos reading! There are better guides if you are only interested in the islands, but for a combination trip taking in Ecuador as well, it's hard to beat.

Birds, Mammals, and Reptiles of the Galapagos Islands

Birds, Mammals, and Reptiles of the Galapagos Islands
Small enough to fit into your pocket, yet containing comprehensive information and pictures of all the species you will encounter in the islands, this book is a must-have for nature lovers. Let's face it, Galapagos is largely about the wildlife. This book will NOT disappoint, and you'll have a great memento of your time with the seals, penguins and tortoises!

Galapagos: The Islands That Changed the World

Galapagos: The Islands That Changed the World
Definitely NOT a tourist's guide, but if you're like me, and find the history and geography of the islands irresistible, then this is a title you ought to invest in. Stunningly illustrated, and painstakingly researched, those of you who have been there will be enchanted again -- and those of you who have not will begin planning your trip!

Moon Spotlight Galapagos Islands

Moon Spotlight Galapagos Islands
If you're a seasoned Galapagos regular, then you will probably prefer something weightier. But for first-timers looking for simple, down-to-earth advice on where to go, what to see and the best shopping and eating on the islands, this is the book for you. Small, well-priced, and reliable!

Galapagos: Islands Born of Fire

Galapagos: Islands Born of Fire
The 10th anniversary edition of this photographer's tour of the Galapagos Islands is a stunning book, worthy of anybody's coffee table. This is a perfect post-trip talking point -- a great way to remember what you've seen, and spread the word amongst your envious friends!

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If you have questions about the Galapagos Islands, You can post them on our Galapagos FAQ Page or if you'd like to request more information about our recommended Galapagos Land Tours to explore this Archipelago, you can Contact us here

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