Description: The Galápagos Penguin is relatively small compared to other penguins. The average size is about 53 cm in length and 1.7 to 2.6 kg in mass. Males are typically larger than females. These penguins are black with white areas on their heads and the front of the body. This coloring, also known as countershading, helps protect them from predators. Appearance: penguin/spheniscus-mendiculus/image- G html
Diet:Predators: The Galápagos Penguins are carnivores and eat many types of small marine creatures. Their main sources of food include: mullets, sardines, anchovies, and pilchards. They will dive to a depth of meters to obtain small crustaceans, small fish, and invertebrates. They will also eat some types of zooplankton and mollusks. They hunt in groups and ambush their prey. The main terrestrial predators include; Sally Lightfoot Crabs, Snakes, Hawks, Owls, and the Galápagos Rice Rats. Domestic or feral cats and dogs may also be predators. In the water their main predators are sharks. Sally Lightfoot Crab penguin/spheniscus-mendiculus/image- G html
Relationship with Humans: The penguins provide an economic benefit for humans involving ecotourism. The penguins attract bird watchers and wildlife enthusiasts. Humans have a mainly negative relationship with the penguins. Humans disturb their nesting habitats and introduce new predators such as domesticated dogs and cats. Humans also spread disease. galapagos-penguin.html
Where is this species found? The Galápagos Penguin is endemic to the Galápagos Islands, with a majority of individuals being found on Fernandina and Isabela. They are found on most of the 19 major islands The Galápagos Penguin is the only penguin species found north of the equator and in the Galápagos. This is also the only penguin to live and breed entirely in a tropical climate. These penguins live in coastal areas where they can nest on land and hunt in offshore waters. They live in large social colonies of several hundred individuals.
Why is this species endangered? The Galápagos Penguin faces multiple threats. Common dangers such as pollution and human impact on their environment influence their survival. Humans specifically have introduced new predators such as cats and dogs. Some penguins have been caught by commercial fishermen, and others are starving because fisheries are harvesting their source of food. The populations also been impact by recent El Niño events which reduce food resources. Another key reason for endangerment is the limited options for nesting sites. Remaining Population? Scientists estimate that there are between 1,400 and 1,500 penguins in the wild. “The Galápagos penguin… has experienced a population decline of over 50 percent since the 1970s, and faces a 30- percent chance of extinction in this century.” -Tony LaCasse Spokesman for the New England Aquarium.
What is being done to revitalize the species numbers? There is currently one effort put into place to specifically conserve the population of Galápagos Penguin. This project is funded by a private foundation. The Galápagos Conservancy has released a project to increase the population through artificial nests. This project was funded in 2013, and will be implemented through March of The scientists involved have proved high quality nesting sites on three major islands (Isabela, Fernandina, and Bartolomé. The long term goal of this project is to strengthen the population. How successful are the current efforts? The current work of the Galápagos Conservancy appears to be helping the penguins reproduce successfully. The scientists monitor the sites two to three times a year, and, several eggs and chicks have been observed in the constructed nests. Conclusions involving this study will not be drawn until March 2014.
What can be done to further help the species? To help support the conservation efforts, individuals can financially assist with research. Individuals can invest and become a partner in conservation, or individuals can make a symbolic penguin adoption online. This again financially supports research and conservation efforts. Finally, individuals can spread the word. By bringing awareness to the current situation, they can help get more people involved in the conservation efforts.
How is this species important to the world? The Galápagos Penguin plays a role in the ecosystem. It is a predator to many marine animals, and it also acts as prey for other predators. These penguins consume foods from the ocean, and make these nutrients available to species which are strictly terrestrial. These penguins also play an economic role. They promote ecotourism, encouraging tourists and birdwatchers to travel to the Galápagos Islands. Save me!
Sources: References: Ecosystem Restoration: Increasing the Galapagos Penguin Population. (n.d.). Retrieved January 30, 2014, from Galapagos Conservancy website: conservation/increasing-the-galapagos-penguin-population/ Galapagos Penguin. (n.d.). Retrieved January 30, 2014, from World Wildlife Fund website: https://worldwildlife.org/species/galapagos-penguin Galapagos Penguin [PDF]. (n.d.). Retrieved from expert%20topics%202007%20(bonine)/Lauerman_galapagospenguin.pdf Moskowitz, C. (2010, September 9). Earth's penguins are skating on thin ice. Retrieved January 29, 2014, from NBC News website: technology_and_science-science/#.UusrIPldXkF