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Galapagos penguin

Galapagos penguin
© Sam Rowley

Common name:

Galapagos penguin

Scientific name:

Spheniscus mendiculus

Spanish name:

Pingüino de Galápagos

Conservation status:



Average lifespan:

20 years

Average size:

49 centimetres

Maximum size:

55 centimetres

Average weight:

2.5 kilograms


The Galapagos penguin is one of the smallest penguins in the world and is endemic to the Galapagos Islands. It is the most northerly occurring penguin species, nesting entirely in the tropics, with some colonies living on the northern tip of Isabela in the Northern Hemisphere. They are closely related to the African, Humboldt and Magellanic penguins, all of which are burrow-dwelling. As there is no soft peat in which to burrow on the Galapagos Islands, Galapagos penguins instead live in caves and crevices in the coastal lava. 

As with all penguin species, they are extremely agile underwater, reaching speeds of 35 km per hour when hunting. Their diet consists primarily of cold water-schooling fish, such as anchovies, sardines and mullet, which are able to live in the Galapagos Marine Reserve thanks to the cold waters of the Humboldt Current.

Galapagos penguins in Galapagos

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