The Galapagos penguin is the third smallest species of penguin in the world and is the most distinctive as it lives further north than any other penguin species. The Galapagos penguin is thought to be most closely to the African penguin and the Humboldt penguin found along the coast of Peru and Chile.
While ninety percent of the world's Galapagos penguins live among the western islands of Fernandina and Isabela, they can also be seen on Santiago, Bartolome, northern Santa Cruz, and Floreana. The northern tip of Isla Isabella crosses the equator, meaning that these animals occasionally visit the northern hemisphere, and are the only species of penguin to do so.
The Galapagos penguin has a black head with a white border running from behind their eyes, around the black ear-coverts and chin, to join on the throat. Galapagos penguins have blackish-grey upperparts and whitish underparts, with two black bands across the breast, with the lower band extending down the flanks to the thigh.
Before they breed, the Galapagos penguins moult, and they may do this twice a year. While the Galapagos penguins are moulting, they usually stay out of the water. They are able to go to the sea for food rather than starve though since the water is so warm in their area. Since they moult right before breeding, Galapagos penguins are able to ensure that they will not starve during the moulting process.
The Galapagos penguin is a carnivorous animal, that like all other penguin species, survives on a diet that is only comprised of marine animals. Krill and small crustaceans make up the bulk of the Galapagos penguin's diet along with larger organisms including squid and various species of fish.
Because of the Galapagos Penguin's smaller size, it has many predators both in the water and also on when they are on dry land. On land, the Galapagos penguins must keep an eye out for crabs, snakes, owls, and hawks, while in the water they must avoid sharks, fur seals, and sea lions. The Galapagos penguin has also been severely affected by human activity around the archipelago.
On average, the Galapagos penguin breeds once a year, forming pairs that usually remain faithful to one another. The female Galapagos penguin lays two eggs which are incubated by both parents for up to 40 days, when only one of the eggs will usually hatch. The Galapagos penguin chicks are fed and kept warm by their parents and remain with them until the chicks are nearly a year old.
Today, the Galapagos penguin is listed as an endangered species as like many species found around the islands, they are endemic to the area and do not adapt well to sudden changes in their environment.