One of the most famous inhabitants of the archipelago, the Galapagos Penguins are also record-holders. Not only are they one of the world’s smallest penguin species, they are also the most northerly penguin species. In fact the colony on the northern tip of Isabela Island are technically in the northern hemisphere!
The Galapagos penguin is most closely related to the African and Humboldt penguins which are burrowers. Because there’s no soft peat soil to dig on the archipelago shores, the Galapagos Penguins nest in crevices and caves found among the coastal lava fields.
Penguins are of course unmistakable on land with their stout little bodies and purposeful, waddling walk. However under the water they are superb swimmers, their streamlined torpedo shape enabling them to swim at speeds over 20mph on their hunt for anchovies, sardines and mullet that thrive in the rich, cold waters that surround the Galapagos.
Galapatours cruises that take in Bartolome, Fernandina and Isabela Islands will allow you to see these charming creatures as they are most concentrated in these areas, but they are not common elsewhere in the Galapagos. If you go snorkelling close to Pinnacle Rock you will often be joined by penguins curious to see what you are doing! If this is an experience you would love to have, talk to one of our Galapagos experts who will recommend the right cruise for you.
The restricted population and isolation of the Galapagos Penguin means that they are vulnerable to habitat and climate changes, and in particular the weather events known as El Niño can devastate their populations. Because of this the species is officially listed as “endangered”.
In recent years the National Park authorities have been working hard to monitor the Penguin populations and to preserve their nesting and feeding grounds.
Fast Facts about the Galapagos Penguin
- The Galapagos Penguins on the northern tip of Isabela technically live in the Northern Hemisphere!
- The Galapagos Penguin has the smallest population of any penguin species
- Galapagos penguins mate for life, and have strong pair bonds
- Galapagos Penguins can overheat quickly, so they seek out shade and stand and pant to keep cool