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Galapagos Penguin

The Galapagos Penguin is unique for many reasons. The rarest and second-smallest penguin in the world, it weighs in at four to five pounds and is the only penguin that lives on or above the equator. You’ll mostly find the Galapagos Penguin on Fernandina Island and the western shorelines of Isabela Island, though some small communities do call the other islands home. The Galapagos Penguin is the only penguin that moults twice a year, and its breeding cycle is uniquely irregular and based entirely on the current climate, water temperature, and nutrient levels. They can lay their eggs as many as three times per year, and can even raise two chicks in three months during times when food is plentiful.

This adaptability to their environment with regards to breeding is really what sets the Galapagos Penguin apart. When the Galapagos seas fill with warm, nutrient rich water, the Galapagos Penguin can snap into action, shedding their feathers to adjust to the temperature and panting to keep cool — as they have no sweat glands — and quickly launching into breeding mode. This adaptability has been put to the test over the past forty years, however, and the Galapagos Penguin is now endangered with a population equal to about half of what it was in the 1970s. This is due largely to the debilitating El Nino storms of the late 20th century and human impact in the form of rats and cats brought by whalers that now prey on the penguins.