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Galapagos Islands

Penguin species and distribution areas

The Galapagos Islands lie on the Equator and representate the northernmost habitat of penguins. These islands belong to Ecuador. On the Galapsgos Islands the Galapagos Penguin is endemic. Some individuals of the Galapagos Penguins even cross the Equator and are living on the northern hemisphere. But this species is an exception, all other penguin species occur on the southern hemisphere only. A large part of the population of Galapagos Penguins resides on the islands Fernandina and Isabela.

Climate of the Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos Islands are influenced by tropical climate. Due to daytime air (this means that the difference between day and night temperatures is higher than the difference between the temperatures over the year) the temperatures are quite constant over the year. In summer, the temperature is approximately 30°C and in winter it is also warm. The winter average temperature is 28°C.
The year is divided into a dry season (garúa) in winter and a rainy season in summer. During the dry season cold winds, fog and regular drizzles are dominating. In the rainy season unregular and heavy rains occur but it is still warm and the sun is shining in between. Galapagos Penguins are adapted to these relative high temperatures: on land, they increase the blood flow in feet and flippers so that heat is given off the body. Due to the increased blood flow the bottom of the flippers is colored rose-red.

El Nino events

The cold and nutrient-rich Humboldt current flows along the Galapagos Islands. Under normal conditions penguins and other animals find food in masses.
Every three to seven years, a weather phenomenon occurs which is called El Nino. In this case, the water around the west coast of South America is warmed up. That is why fish migrate to other regions. Consequently, penguins also have to swim further or starve.

Nesting sites

The ground of the islands Fernandina and Isabela is made of volcano and lava rocks. Galapagos Penguins nest in crevices between boulders so that the eggs and chicks are not exposed to direct sunlight.

Conservation status

Galapagos Penguins are listed as "endangered" by the IUCN because of their small population size and their limited habitat. Catastrophes like oil spills or natural disasters could decline the population fastly or even eradicate the whole species.

A pleasant aspect is that all endemic bird species are still preserved on the Galapagos Islands. Other bird species were eradicated on other islands after the arrival of humans. But the Galapagos Islands were settled by humans much later. Some islands are still uninhabited.


References:
http://www.galapagos.org/about_galapagos/sea-birds/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gal%C3%A1pagos_Islands
Climate data: http://www.iten-online.ch/klima/amerika/ecuador/galapagos.htm


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