Zoology

How Galapagos Penguins Adapt to their Environment



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Spheniscus mendiculus is the scientific name for the Galapagos penguin.It is the only penguin to live on the equator and one of the smallest penguins which average at the size of 48-50 cm and weight around 5.5Ibs. It is the only penguin ever to have crossed the Northern Hemisphere. Galapagos penguin is considered special due to their capability of adaptation to their surroundings. One of the least studied penguin populations in the world, Galapagos penguin has many unique features that that help it survive in the Galapagos Island. Their adaptation allows them to withstand extreme temperature of hot and cold. They hunt in 59-82 degrees of Fahrenheit waters while living on an island shores that can get as hot as 104 degrees. Hunt fish in cold waters and live out the rest of their time in the hot Galapagos sun.

They can be spotted among the western islands of Fernandina and Isabella. The species is an endangered species, it is estimated by the Charles Darwin Research Station in 2004 that the population size is around 1,500. It is therefore one of the rarest penguin species. Population level decreased due to the El Nino Southern Oscillation that reduces the amount of food for the penguins such as shoaling fish that lead to starvation and low production. Due to undependable food source, the Galapagos penguin develop a breeding adaptation to this phenomena where they actually choose when to breed thus they don't have a specified breeding season. They can actually breed up to 3 times a year.

Their unique morphological adaptation in terms of smaller body size helps them to adapt to their hot surroundings since a smaller body size is much more effective to dissipate heats .In contrast to Galapagos penguins, the size of Antarctic penguins are bigger due to the cold weather and dependable food source.

One other unique adaptation of the Galapagos penguin is its molting ability. Unlike other species of penguins that molts only once a year, the Galapagos penguin molts twice a year.All penguins have a layer of feathers that may be easily damaged by the strong equatorial sun, molts is an ability that help them to maintain their layer of feathers in good condition. Due to their hot living environment, the Galapagos penguin adapt to this condition by molting twice a year.

The Galapagos penguin demonstrates a unique adaptation called hatching asynchrony. Whereas other penguins lay two eggs that usually hatch within 24 hours within one another. The Galapagos penguin hatches its two eggs between two to four days apart. This is done by laying and incubating its eggs at slightly different times. Hatching asynchrony provides a better chance at survival where at least one of the chicks will survive.

Galapagos penguins are among the rarest species of penguin in the world. The Galapagos penguin is unique because it is a remarkable species that exhibits numerous unique adaptations that allow it to continue surviving in extreme niches.

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