Galapagos penguins are unusual examples of this type of bird, and visitors to the Galapagos Islands are often surprised to see penguins living right on the equator. In fact, the Galapagos Island penguin is the only penguin to live so close to the equator, and indeed sometimes crosses into the Northern hemisphere by land on Isla Isabela, also the only penguin species to do so. These birds are generally known to be cold weather animals, but the cold currents of the Galapagos waters allow them to survive in these tropical islands.
These unique Galapagos Islands birds are only found on the islands of the archipelago, and the Galapagos penguins are particularly cute to watch as they are among the smallest of all the penguin species of the world. Visitors can see them flocking on the rocks at the beach on many islands in the Galapagos. Galapagos penguins mate for life and breed whenever conditions are favorable, so you have a good chance of seeing nests and baby penguins when you visit the Galapagos Islands. It is an amazing sight to see the penguins playing on the beach and keeping cool by leaning forward to keep the sun off their feet.
The Galapagos Island Penguin depends on the cold currents from the Antarctic for its food supply and survival. During the day, they swim and feed in the cold currents, returning to land at night. In warm years, such as during an El Niño year, the oceans are warmer, causing the penguins to postpone breeding and precipitating a sharp drop in their numbers. The fragility of these penguins' ecosystem is one reason why these Galapagos Islands birds are one of the most endangered dolphin species in the world. They are just one more example of the unique wildlife present only in the unique environment of the Galapagos Islands.