Galápagos Conservancy

Celebrating the Galápagos Penguin on World Penguin Day

Celebrating the Galápagos Penguin on World Penguin Day
Three Galápagos penguins together witness the sunset at Punta Moreno, Isabela. ©TrileighTucker

World Penguin Day is celebrated on April 25th to raise awareness about these extraordinary birds. Among the most extraordinary of them is the Galápagos Penguin, scientifically known as Spheniscus mendiculus, that stands out as the world’s northerly penguin species, occurring only Galápagos where at times it ranges north of the equator.

The Galápagos Penguin occurs mostly in the cool, nutrient-rich ocean waters of the western part of the archipelago, where abundant prey is available during upwellings— a process by which cold, productive waters rise from the ocean’s depth to its surface. Primarily found along the rocky shores of Fernandina and Isabela Islands, Galápagos Penguins nest among the lava rocks on the ocean’s edge and feed in nearby shallow waters.

Populations of Galapagos Penguins, which live to 20 years of age, rise and fall with changing ocean conditions but seem to be in decline since the 1970s, a trend attributed to increased occurrences and severity of el Niño events which devastate penguin food supplies and the presence of introduced predators such as rats and cats, that attack nesting penguins.

Given this situation, the Galápagos Penguin is classified as an Endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). These birds may play a role in the marine food web – as intermediate consumers, they help regulate the populations of various aquatic species like fish and crustaceans. Additionally, they serve as important bioindicators of environmental health, providing valuable insights into the impacts of oceanographic and climatic conditions, including disturbances associated with phenomena like el Niño.

For our general director, scientist Washington Tapia, “the conservation of penguins is essential not only for their intrinsic value but also for their role in maintaining the ecological integrity and resilience of Galápagos.”

Celebrating the Galápagos Penguin on World Penguin Day
An adult penguin watches over its nest with a vigilant gaze, highlighting its alertness to any threats in order to protect the eggs. ©Dee Boersma

On this World Penguin Day commemoration, it is vital to emphasize the need for conservation actions for the Galapagos Penguin and other penguins around the world. . Such efforts, supported by the best available scientific knowledge, protect not only these emblematic species but also the entire marine ecosystem. Global collaboration and local commitment are essential to addressing these birds’ challenges. We reaffirm our commitment to supporting actions that ensure a secure future for the Galápagos Penguins, symbols of conservation in a changing world.

Celebrating the Galápagos Penguin on World Penguin Day
A Galápagos penguin attentively observes Sally Lightfoot crabs, which share its rocky habitat on Bartolomé Island. ©KarenChiasson