The Galapagos Penguin is just one of the many endemic species on the Galapagos Islands that have differentiated themselves from other species by adapting to fit their rather unique surroundings. There are many things that make the Galapagos Penguin unique among penguin species. By adapting to life just above the equator these little penguins have differentiated themselves from other penguins in behavior, breeding and appearance.
Galapagos Penguins are the only penguins on Earth that live above the equator. Because of a cold current near the Galapagos archipelago, these animals are able to survive by spending their days in the water and their nights on the islands. They also have many cooling techniques for days when they must be on land, like when they are molting.
Adult Galapagos Penguins have an average height of about 20 inches and they typically weigh around 5.5 pounds. This makes them the third smallest penguins on Earth and the smallest of the South American penguins. Their small stature is believed to help them survive in the case of a major food shortage. This can happen in the Galapagos at any time due to the unpredictable ocean temperatures in the area.
The Galapagos Penguins have other unique features apart from being small. They have thinner layers of fat than other penguins. This is obviously due to the intense heat on the Galapagos. They also have fewer and looser feathers than most other penguins. This is another way these penguins stay cool so near the equator. Galapagos Penguins molt twice a year. Every other penguin species on the planet molts only once a year.
Galapagos Penguin’s mating habits differ very much from that of other penguins. They have no particular mating season and can breed up to three times a year. They tend to breed when food is plentiful. They are the only penguins who do not lay all of their eggs at once. They will lay one egg and then wait two to four days and then lays another. Only one of these chicks will survive after hatching. Adult Galapagos Penguins will favor the stronger chick during feeding.
Galapagos Penguins are an endangered species. They are the rarest penguins on Earth, with a population of only 1,500 to 2,000. Years when El Nino occurs these penguins suffer massive losses due to food shortages. If the currents near the Galapagos were to change permanently, these penguins would almost definitely become extinct.