I don’t know about you, but when I think of penguins, I think of cute little birds in tuxedos playing in the snow. I recently learned that there are actually penguins that live in the tropics, right near the equator in the Galapagos Islands.
There several islands in the Galapagos archipelago (a group of islands), but the penguins seem to stay mostly on the western islands of Fernandina and Isabela. They probably stay on these islands because there is a current of colder water that runs along their shores called the Cromwell Current.
A survey done in the 1970s estimated that there were around 10,000 of these penguins, but current surveys show that there are only about 1,000 breeding pairs left. Scientists think that about 77% of the population died in 1982 and 1983 when the islands experienced unusual weather, which caused a food shortage for the penguins. They seem to be slowly rebuilding their population.
Galapagos penguins are pretty small, they only weigh about 2 kg (4.5 lbs.) – about the weight of a pineapple. They only get to be about 49cm tall, that’s less than 2 feet. They have a large bill and a narrow white line around the face. Their backs are grey and black and their belly is white.
The penguins mostly eat small fish like mullet and sardines. Unfortunately, because they are so small they have many predators. On land, crabs, snakes, owls, and hawks pick on the little penguins; in the sea, sharks, fur seals, and sea lions can attack them. It can be a rough life, but these penguins seem to enjoy their tropical paradise.
Watch to learn more about the Galapagos Penguins
Galapagos Penguins trying to catch dinner