The Galapagos Penguin

Jan 19, 2020
The Galapagos Penguin

There are 4 types of penguins, and these are split into 18 species.

Out of the 18 species of penguin 13 are endangered, near threatened or vulnerable!

What are the species of penguin?

We have listed all 18 species of penguin bellow, along with their status as listed on the IUCN Red List.
  • Adelie Penguin - Least Concern

  • Chinstrap Penguin - Least Concern

  • Gentoo Penguin - Least Concern

  • King Penguin - Least Concern

  • Little (Fairy) Penguin - Least Concern

  • Emperor Penguin - Near Threatened

  • Magellanic Penguin - Near Threatened

  • Royal Penguin - Near Threatened 

  • Fiordland (Crested) Penguin - Vulnerable

  • Humboldt Penguin - Vulnerable

  • Macaroni Penguin - Vulnerable

  • Snares (Island) Penguin - Vulnerable

  • Southern Rockhopper Penguin - Vulnerable

  • African (Jackass) Penguin - Endangered

  • Erect-Crested Penguin - Endangered

  • Galapagos Penguin - Endangered

  • Northern Rockhopper Penguin - Endangered

  • Yellow-Eyed Penguin - Endangered

The Galapagos Penguin

Today we want to take the opportunity to learn more about the Galapagos penguins. Considered one of the most endangered species of penguin on the planet. 

Information Sheet:

Name: Galapagos Penguin - Spheniscus mendiculus

Average Weight: 5.5 pounds

Average Size: 19 inches

Lifespan in the Wild: 15 - 20 years

IUCN Status: Endangered

Population: 1,200 mature individual - Last assed by IUCN Red List in August 2018.

General Information: The Galapagos Penguins are the only penguin species to live north of the equator. 

Galapagos Penguins


The Galapagos penguins are carnivores that love to eat small fish. Typically they can be found eating anchovies, sardines and mullet. They hunt in groups and will catch their prey from below, using their small wings to propel them through the water.

Nesting Behaviours & Reproduction:

Quite often Galapagos penguins will breed with the same mate for most of their life. Once the male penguin has chosen his mate, they will build their nest together before copulating. Breeding can occur all year round, typically 2 eggs will be laid about 4 days apart and will incubate for up to 40 days. During the incubation period the male and female penguin will take it in turns to care for the eggs. Female Galapagos penguins can have up to 3 clutches (6 eggs) per year.

At around 8/9 weeks old, the dark-brown chicks fledge and at the age of between 3 - 6 months they become fully independent. Female penguins will reach sexual maturity at around 3 - 4 years old, where as males wait to around 3 - 6 years old.

Read more information here.

Young Galapagos Penguin

Habitat & Range:

As the name suggests, these penguins inhabit the Galapagos Islands. They can mainly be found on Isabela and Fernandina islands, a small colony can sometimes be found on Bartolomé. Even occasionally showing up on the Floreana and James islands as well. 

People enjoy swimming with penguins around Pinnacle Rock on Bartolomé.

They can be found relaxing on the sandy shores and rocky beaches and they tend to like to nest on the sheltered coasts. Galapagos penguins can be found breeding on the larger islands, they prefer to lay their eggs in holes that can be found in the volcanic rock or caves.

Learn even more here.

Threats To The Species:

On land, these penguins are hunted by owls, hawks and snakes, in the ocean their predators are sharks although this doesn't typically affect their populations too drastically. However, the introduction of rats and cats to the islands has had an impacted their population. These frequently not only attack the penguins but also their eggs. Dogs can also spread diseases to the penguins.

They fall victim to bycatch, and get tangled in fishing nets and traps that are aiming to catch fish. Like other marine wildlife, Galapagos penguins are affected by pollution and climate changes. El Niño events have also taken a toll on the overall population too. El Niño is a complex weather patterns that is a result of variations in ocean temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific. These events have seen large parts of the penguins population to die from starvation as well as reducing breeding success.

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