The Galapagos penguin (Spheniscus mendiculus) is native to the Galapagos Islands. It is the only penguin species that lives on and north to the equator. It can survive due to the cool temperatures resulting from the Humboldt Current and cool waters brought by the Cromwell Current. Rest of the interrelated species of these penguins exist in the South American mainland and the coast of Africa. First let me explain how penguins generally survive in Antartica. To stay warm in the climate penguins have a thick layer of insulating fat and very special waterproof and double insulating feathers. Even the Galapagos Penguins have the same features to protect them. They spend most of their time in water which is quite cold during the day due to weather patterns and the currents mentioned above. They also use methods of thermoregulation to keep cool on the hot land.

Thermoregulation is to have the ability to keep the body temperature in to certain boundaries even when the temperature is completely in contrast outside. One is by stretching out their flippers and bending forward to keep the sun from shining on their feet as they can lose heat from their flippers due to the blood flow there. They also pant to vaporize and cool the air passages and the throat.

According to a survey by the Charles Darwin Research Station, these penguins are endangered with an estimated population of around 1500-2000 individuals in 2004. The population underwent an alarming decline of over 70% lately, but is slowly recovering. These penguins are therefore, a rare species.

Author: Rishi V, Class 7, Meridian School, Madhapur, Hyderabad.