Banded Penguins (Spheniscus)

Galapagos Penguin(Spheniscus mendiculus)

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Galapagos Photo Gallery

Galapagos Photo Gallery 1

They are by far the smallest of the Spheniscus Penguins averaging 21 inches in length and have a weight range of 4.4 to 6.2 pounds. Only the Fairy Penguin is smaller. They have two thin black bands and across the chest with a predominating black face with a narrow white band on the side of the head differentiating them from other banded penguins. They are the northern most of all penguins. They are endemic and restricted to the Galapagos Islands. Elizabeth Bay (Isabella Island) has the largest penguin population, with Fernandina Island the next largest. The penguins on both islands benefit from the Cornwell current, a deep cold water current traveling along the equatorial line from the western Pacific as they have difficulty in keeping cool as they live near the equator. Thermoregulation is accomplished by stretching out their flippers and hunching forward to keep the sun from shinning on their feet, since they can lose heat from their flippers due to their circulation. They can also pant using evaporation. They keep cool by swimming and hunting for food in the cold, nutrient rich water of the Cromwell Upwelling current during the day. Lack of feathers on their legs and bare patches on the face help to dissipate excess heat. Their diet consists mainly of small fish, sardines and mullet. They search for food only during the day and travel only a few kilometers from their breeding site. They are the only penguin that molt twice a year and have the shortest molting period of 13 days. There are approximately 2,000 pairs and the population is endangered. On land, predators as crabs, snakes, owls, and hawks as well as introduced feral dogs, cats and more recently rats as well as increasing water temperatures from the El Nino current which reduces the upwelling of nutrient-rich water, have led to their small numbers and greater vulnerability. In 1982 El Nino wiped out 77% of the Galapagos penguin, leaving only 463 total birds. There are no known subspecies. They lay two eggs of similar size with an average of 1.3 chicks per nest. The eggs are laid in caves or crevices protecting the eggs from direct sunlight which can lead to overheating. They are reported to dive as deep as 105 feet. Their swimming speed is unknown.

African Penguin(Spheniscus demersus)

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African Photo Gallery

African Photo Gallery1

They are the second largest of the Spheniscus penguins, being 27 to 28 inches in length and weigh between 7 and 11 pounds. They have a narrow inverted horseshoe-shaped black band crossing the breast and extending along the flanks to the thighs, and they have black feet. They look similar to the Humboldt penguin. Because they live in a temperate climate, they have pink glands above their eyes, and have lack feathers on their legs and have bare areas on their face to dissipate excess heat, thus preventing overheating and thermoregulation. They are monogamous. They breed mainly in burrows or use other forms of shelter as rocks and bushes to avoid solar radiation. They are the only penguin that breed in Africa and breed on 24 islands off the Southeastern coasts and along the Southwest coast of southern Africa. This region is mainly influenced by the cold Benguela Current. Their diet consists mainly of fish and krill. Similar to other Spheniscus penguin they dig shallow burrows for protection. There are an estimated 70,000 pairs and the population is vulnerable. They are a protected species, but they have been and unfortunately will continue to be potential victims of oil spills. Quite a few are in captivity and I have seen these penguins at hotels in Hawaii and Las Vegas. There are no known subspecies. They lay two similar sized eggs. Hatching success ranges from 40% to 75% depending on the location. If there is adequate food, both chicks generally survive. Gulls and ibises eat 40% of their eggs. The average lifespan is 10 to 27 years. They dive to a maximum of around 450 feet and swim up to 6.5 mph. They as the other Spheniscus penguins rarely porpoise.

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