One fun activity that travelers who visit the Galapagos can do is swim or snorkel with penguins. The Galapagos penguin is one of the smallest in the world, and the only one of its species found north of the equator.
Keep Reading for some fun facts about penguins in the Galapagos, and some of the places where you can find them while in the islands.
• The Galapagos penguin is the third smallest in the world. Due to El Nino years when the waters of the Galapagos remain warm and the food supply dwindles as a result, their population has declined to the point where they are considered endangered. The Galapagos Conservancy is actively involved in helping the population grow, building artificial nests at breeding sites.
• Galapagos penguins form remain with the same partner for their entire lives. After their eggs hatch, chicks mature into fledglings. Unlike other penguins, the fledglings of the Galapagos stay with their parents after this event, being fed as chicks into young adulthood.
• The marine birds migrate according to the currents. During the wet season, when the waters are warm, they are found on the western side of Isabela Island, where the waters are cooler and the food is in greater supply. During the dry season between June and December when the waters are cooler, they move to other parts of the archipelago, including Bartolome and Santa Fe Islands.
• The dry season is also one of the most active for mating, the upwelling of fish from the combination of the warm and cool waters gives the birds the resources to reproduce and feed their young.
• The penguins around Bartholomew Bay and in other parts of the islands dive for fish near their colonies, spending less than a minute underwater before coming up for air. They prefer shallow waters with schools of fish to feed on, making them a common appearance when snorkeling.
• As of 2014, there were about 1000 pairs of penguins in the islands, double from a census taken decades before. While progress is being made, the endemic Galapagos penguin in the rarest of its species in the world.
• Galapagos penguins can live for 15 to 20 years in the wild. Their natural predators include dogs and cats.
• Like other penguins, the Galapagos penguin doesn’t have teeth. The birds snag fish with their beak instead and have ridges on their tongues to help swallow their prey
• Galapagos penguins molt up to three times each year, shedding their feathers and unable to go back in the water until a new coat grows.
If you enjoyed reading this piece, check out our species blog about the Galapagos penguin.
Two of the stops on cruises where you can swim and snorkel with Galapagos penguins are Bartholomew Island around Pinnacle Rock, and in the bay off of Puerto Villamil on Isabela. For more information about cruises, and options for island-hopping and hotel based trips, contact a member of our team through this site or our toll-free number.