Today, 20 January, is Penguin Awareness Day – a whole day dedicated to penguins around the world!
There are 17 species of penguin around the world – but only one species lives on the equator, the Galapagos penguin. Being so far from the snow and ice that penguins usually call home poses some particular challenges for the Galapagos penguin. Rather than huddle for warmth like more southerly penguins, they usually seek shade from the 30+oC heat by panting like dogs to keep cool when they are not hunting. The Humboldt current, along with the Cromwell current, brings the nutrient rich cold water to Galapagos allowing penguins to inhabit such an unusual part of the world.
With an estimated population of fewer than 2,000 individuals, the Galapagos penguin is now classed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List with a predicted 30% chance of extinction in the next 100 years. Endemic to Galapagos, 95% of the penguin’s population can be found on Isabela and Fernandina islands, with the rest of the population seen on Floreana, Santiago and Bartolome. Visitors to the Islands can swim in the same bays as the penguins. The best place to swim with the penguins is the bay close to Pinnacle Rock on Bartolome island.
Galapagos Conservation Trust is helping to protect this endemic species. Since 2011, the Galapagos Conservation Trust has been funding a monitoring and research project run by the Charles Darwin Foundation (CDF). The data collected from the project has provided insights into the current status of these penguins as well as other threatened seabirds who share the coastlines. This research was particularly important during last year’s El Niño, a weather event that can have a detrimental impact on penguin populations. We also support a vast number of other projects including invasive species eradication and education initiatives that help to protect Galapagos and the species that call it home.
Other ways you can help
Donate to Galapagos Conservation Trust – all donations will go towards helping conserve the Galapagos and the creatures that call it home.
Adopt a penguin – our adoptions make great gifts for any occasion, whether a birthday, a wedding present or congratulatory gift or a special something for yourself
Visit our educational website Discovering Galapagos to learn more about how we are helping to protect the Galapagos Penguin.
Please share this page on social media to raise awareness of these incredible penguins, the threats they face and how people can help.
Written by GCT’s office manager, Lisa Wheeler