Feature – Center for Ecosystem Sentinels



Center for Ecosystem Sentinels

Galapagos Penguins are classified as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in the Red List of Threatened Species(version 2022-1)

Galapagos Penguin (Spheniscus mendiculus) – Endangered *

      • They only live in the wild on the Galapagos Islands, off the coast of Ecuador, on the equator.
      • The Galápagos penguin is the rarest of all penguin species.
      • They are the second smallest penguins in the world; at just around 19 inches (49cm) in height, and roughly 5.5 lb (2.5 kg) in weight.
      • They live in small colonies and tuck themselves away in lava tubes and rocky crevices, often escaping the human eye.
      • They are the most northerly penguin species and the only one that occurs above the equator.
      • They are more concerned with overheating than with freezing.
      • Their biggest threats are climate change, loss of breeding sites, introduced species, overfishing, and mismanagement of fisheries.

About The Center for Ecosystem Sentinels

      • The main focus of research on Galápagos penguins has been to determine the health and size of the population. Dr. Boersma did the first counts of penguins around Fernandina and Isabela Islands in 1970, and 1971. Both years she counted more than 2,000 penguins.
      • Dr. Boersma, Godfrey Merlin and graduate student, Caroline Cappello, twice a year measure and weigh penguins to evaluate body condition and search for nests with eggs and chicks..
      • Their trips to the Galápagos are limited to twice per year but Galapagos penguins, time their breeding around food availability, and have been found breeding in every month of the year.
      • The presence of juveniles in the population is carefully noted since it indicates whether the penguins recently bred successfully. If there are no juveniles, the population is likely declining.
      • The current population is estimated to be about half of what it was in the 1970s.

[* current IUCN Red List Category]

 Galapagos Penguin Identification  
 (Credit: The Center For Ecosystem Sentinels)  

(photos by The Center For Ecosystem Sentinels)

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