Aniamals, Adaptation, and the Galapagos Islands Discover with Darwin
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Penguin Adaptation
What steps do these arctic birds take to make themselves at home?
Amy KL Borrell 

When you think of penguin environments, what do you imagine?

Ice? Snow? A cold white landscape dotted with cute, little black and white penguins? Consider this: while penguins do live in arctic climates, they also call the Galápagos Islands home.

How have penguins adapted to the higher temperatures in their Galápagos habitat?

  • Frequent dips in the ocean help keep them cool and let them hunt for fish. Most of their dives are shallow and take place close to the shore.

  • Resting in shade keeps them out of the hottest direct sun.

  • Panting and standing with flippers outstretched helps them release heat.

  • Hunching over allows them to shade their feet.

How have penguins adapted to unpredictable food sources in their Galápagos habitat?

The ocean currents determine how many small fish are in range of the islands. Additionally, water temperature and food volume is affected by El Niño, a weather condition of combined warm water temperatures, currents, and winds in the Pacific Ocean.

Unlike penguins elsewhere, the Galápagos penguins do not follow a specific annual breeding season. The penguins will delay breeding completely if food resources are too low. Additionally, these penguins can produce as many as three clutches — or groups of eggs — per year. Pairs of penguins mate for life, so once food conditions do improve, the Galápagos penguins are able to begin breeding quickly.

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