Many people find it hard to believe that penguins can survive away from the southern hemisphere. According to basic human knowledge, there's only one island in which penguins dwell; Antarctica.
However, not many know that there's a different breed of penguins which reside near the equator. Shocked? Don't be. Yes, there's one breed of penguins which can survive the equatorial heat and these are Galapagos penguins. Also known as Spheniscus mendiculus, this breed is the most northerly adapting of all penguins.
Galapagos Penguin Surroundings
The Galapagos islands are regarded as the habitat of Galapagos penguins. Located around the equator in the Pacific ocean, Galapagos is a cluster of volcanic islands with very less population, and these penguins serve as a primary attraction for tourists and visitors.
Though heat is very harmful for these penguins, they survive with the help of cool temperatures brought by the cool water currents coming to this island. To make sure their body doesn't get burned from the excessive heat, these penguins spend most of their day time swimming in these cold waters, while at nights they rest on land.
During day time these penguins usually hold their flippers out to let the heat escape from the body. They save their feet from getting burned by holding their flippers over them. Galapagos penguins also make their homes in caves.
Galapagos Penguin Diet
Like all other penguins, even Galapagos are carnivores in nature and they eat almost all types of small fish which are smaller than 15 mm in length.
Like all other species of penguins, even Galapagos penguins have many predators to hunt them down. These penguins usually lay their eggs in caves or in the holes of volcanic rock to save their eggs from heat and predators.
On land, the predators for their eggs are snakes, cats, dogs, rats, birds and crabs. In water, the adults are usually killed by killer whales or other carnivorous marine animals.
Females usually lays 2 to 3 eggs in a cave or a place where there's not much heat. The eggs are incubated by both parents for 35 to 40 days. Although both eggs hatch, on many occasions only one lives to become a full-grown adult.
One parent always guards the egg while the other goes for hunting food. Once the chick is born both the parents take care of it for 30 days and then the chick lives on its own while both parents go hunting. Females reach sexual maturity at 3 to 4 years while males take at least 4 to 6 years.
However, many times due to climatic changes they face a shortage in food supply. These unpredictable food changes have led to the death of many penguins due to starvation. In addition to this, human interference and predation are also important reasons for their declining population.
Looking at these factors, many animal conservation bodies have been set up to closely monitor the growth of the species and save them from extinction.
Galapagos penguins are one of the few rare species that help promote eco-tourism in the Galapagos islands. People are very interested in knowing about penguins who live near the equator, and like all other animals, even Galapagos penguins help in maintaining the ecological balance of the earth.