Galápagos Penguin

Galápagos Penguin



COMMON NAME: Galápagos penguin
KINGDOM: Animalia
PHYLUM: Chordata
ORDER: Sphenisciformes
FAMILY: Spheniscidae
GENUS SPECIES: Spheniscus mendiculus


DESCRIPTION: The Galápagos penguin is one of the smaller temperate penguins. Like other temperate penguins, they have bare patches of skin around their eyes and at the base of the bill. They also lack feathers on their legs.
SIZE: Up to 53 cm (21 in.)
WEIGHT: Up to 2.5 kg (5-6 lb.)
DIET: Small fishes
INCUBATION: 38-42 days
LIFE SPAN: 15-20 years
RANGE: Galápagos penguins are found on the Galápagos Islands and off the coast of Ecuador on the equator.
HABITAT: Cracks or caves in lava and beaches near sea level
POPULATION: GLOBAL 1,200 individuals
STATUS: IUCN Endangered
CITES Not listed
USFWS Endangered


1. The Galápagos penguin goes through two molts per year, each lasting about 13 days.
2. Galápagos penguins are the only penguin species to live on the equator.
3. For more information about penguins, explore the PENGUIN INFOBOOK.


Up to 77% of the Galápagos penguin population was wiped out by the 1982-1983 El Niño Southern Oscillation event, leaving only 463 total birds. A slow recovery began in 1985. However, a further decline of 66% of the population occurred during the 1997-1998 ENSO. The population appears to be once again in a recovery phase.

All 18 penguin species are legally protected from hunting and egg collecting. The Antarctic Treaty of 1959 makes it illegal to harm, or in any way interfere with, a penguin or its eggs. Every penguin specimen collected with a permit must be approved by and reported to the Scientific Committee for Antarctic Research (SCAR). Penguins are vulnerable to habitat destruction, overfishing of primary food sources, ecological disasters such as oil spills, pollution such as trash in the ocean, and human encroachment into nesting areas.


BirdLife International (2006) Species factsheet: Spheniscus mendiculus. Downloaded from

Coats, Judith. Penguins: Flightless Birds of the Southern Hemisphere. SeaWorld Education Department, 2001.

Nuzzolo, Debbie. Penguin March. SeaWorld Education Department, 2002.