Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Galapagos Penguin

My favorite bird in the Galapagos is the endangered Galapagos Penguin.  I have yet to make a trip to the Antarctic so anytime I see penguins in the wild (like the ones I saw in South Africa) I get really excited!  And this time I even got to swim with them (please excuse my horrible underwater photography)!  The Galapagos Penguin is the only penguin in the wild (ie not in zoos) that live north of the equator.  They survive because of the cool temperatures from the Humboldt Current- and trust me from snorkeling in the water- it is very chilly!  The penguins have many predators like sharks, fur seals and sea lions in the water, and snakes, hawks and owls on land.  They also face human threats from oil spills and getting caught in fishing lines.  However the reason they are now endangered is mainly because of more severe weather patterns caused by climate change.  During El Nino they can not breed or cool off in the water because the temperatures are too high.  The last big El Nino almost killed off the entire population and another bad one could mean big trouble for these adorable penguins.

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