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23 September 2012 / leggypeggy

Penguins at the equator?

A penguin couple?

A penguin couple?

Departing penguin

Somebody’s leaving, but why?

You bet! The Galapagos Islands have one species of penguin and we saw it. Actually we saw several.

These are the only penguins that live in the wild north of the equator.

There’s a theory that they originated in the very south of South America—in the cold and stormy region known as the Chilean Patagonia (we’ll be there later this year). The penguins may have come north during the last Ice Age and stayed after the ice melted because the Humboldt and Cromwell Currents keep the water cold enough for them to survive.

A Galapagos penguin weighs about 2.5 kilos (5.5 pounds) and is 49 centimetres (19 inches) long. They’re the third smallest species of penguin in the world. They’re also endangered with only 1000 breeding pairs. Because they are small, they have a lot of predators such as hawks, owls, sharks, fur seals, sea lions, snakes and even crabs.

These penguins mate for life, and breeding occurs in the second half of the calendar year. We saw what may have been a romantic interlude or domestic tiff. Two penguins were standing together on a rock. One dived off and swam to a nearby rock. The pair then had a back-and-forth ‘conversation’, which we could hear from the boat we were sitting in. My photos are a bit fuzzy—you try taking pictures in a rocking boat and from a distance—but you get the idea.

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2 Comments

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  1. lmo58 / Sep 23 2012 5:10 pm

    Peggy, You probably made them nervous with the camera! One penguin says to the other: what’s that human holding and why does it click? I’ll go and investigate; you protect our rock!! I love penguins; I hope to see the fairy penguins in Victoria one day.

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    • leggypeggy / Sep 23 2012 10:11 pm

      Haha! Nervous—I don’t think so! 🙂
      We were too far away in a boat to make them nervous. No way they could have heard the clicks. Besides most of the animals in the Galapagos are so used to humans that they have no fear and don’t move away. Means you can get close, especially if you are on land.

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