Why are Galapagos Penguins Endangered?
You might have heard that penguins are threatened birds but do you know that which species of the penguins most endangered?
Well! Galapagos penguins are the most endangered and rarest species of the penguins in the world. You can find them at the equator only except near Antarctica. Dissimilar to the other species of penguins, the Galapagos penguins possess numerous adaptations which let them withstand the warmer climate.
Galapagos penguins live in the western region of the Galapagos Islands; but, certain individuals might sometimes move to distant islands in the archipelago. In comparison to the other penguin breeds, the population of the Galapagos is tiny that is not more than a few thousand.
But did you notice that we are calling Galapagos penguins the endangered species? Why are the Galapagos penguins endangered?
There are numerous reasons for the extinction of these beautiful aquatic birds. In the below article, we will provide you with all the details that how this bird become endangered and which factors are responsible for their extinction.
So, let’s start!
Reasons behind the Galapagos Penguins becoming endangered
There are numerous reasons due to which the Galapagos penguins have become endangered, and some of them are the following:
- The most common reason behind the endangered status of the Galapagos penguins is that there are very limited nests available on the islands. Several years back, the nests which used to exist are not accessible now due to floods.
- The climatic agitations instigated by the La Niña and El Niño cycles have also affected the regularity of the bird’s food supply. It ultimately reduced the population of the penguins to reduce intensely during the past 35 years. Galapagos penguins are tremendously vulnerable to troubles in food obtainability instigated by powerful El Niño incidents. During the El Niño, the warmer surface of the waters left with decidedly fewer nutrients as upwelling as reduced. Below these circumstances, the population of the fish and plankton also decline which is a significant food source for the Galapagos penguins.
- The population of the Galapagos penguins is tiny, and it is limited to a quite small range in which maximum birds breed in only single location. Even though the penguins dispersed between 19 islands but the highest range of breeding is limited to 2 islands known as Isabela and Fernandina which occupy nearly 402 km of the seashore. Here 96% of the entire nests of these penguins are found.
- Due to human intervention in the living areas of the Galapagos penguins have also affected their population. The activities like fishing have increased in the past several years with the equivalent vivid reduction of the penguins.
- The pollution created by the oil spills from the ships or boats have also made these penguins endangered. It makes the living environment of the region difficult to survive by the penguins.
- The predation by the hosted cats known as Felis catus on the islands is also one of the key reasons. These cats create parasites called Toxoplasma gondii that has currently found inside the bodies of Galapagos penguins.
- Galapagos penguins exist on small fishes, like mullet and pilchards (sardines) and probably crustaceans. These penguins regularly hunt in crowds; they chase their target inside the water and catch them from below or side. Juveniles and adult penguins become food for the Galapagos fur seals and sharks in the water. They are also more are in danger to the native Galapagos hawk and even to the introduced hunters like rats, cats, dogs, and other animals of prey.
- Few environmentalists’ distress that avian malaria passed by the mosquito Culex quinquefasciatus might destroy the remaining population of Galapagos penguins, as the maximum number of other penguins are vulnerable to the infection.
- After the intense episodes of El Niño, the population left comprises of more males and fewer females penguins. The female death tends to be higher than male deaths at that time which affects the population to a great extent and its pauses the birth of new penguins.
What should we do to stop the Galapagos Penguins from becoming endangered?
It is essential that we take some initiative to increase the population of the Galapagos penguins or otherwise they will also become extinct like other animals soon.
In recent time, a research team has built 120 shady and high-quality nests for the Galapagos on three main islands, i.e., Fernandina, Bartolomé and Isabela. The nests developed with the help of natural resources like lava rocks. The team examined 2 to 3 times a year to check that if artificial nest sites also help in increasing the reproduction and generative attainment of penguins while food is obtainable.
The primary motive behind this project was to reverse the population deterioration of the Galapagos penguin, and also to support these penguins in better enduring the influences of more recurrent and robust climate variations instigated by El Niño actions. The life of these penguins is between 15 to 20 years, but they easily surrender to predation or due to food scarcities and weather conditions altogether influence their population.
We think that now you know precisely that why are Galapagos penguins endangered as well as what are the reasons behind their extinction status today. It is crucial that we take some initiatives to save these birds from becoming extinct.
It is true that we do not have any control on the natural calamities, but still, there are few things that we can stop from doing like fishing in the living areas of the penguins and preventing the oil spilling. Building artificial steps by some of the research team is an excellent step towards saving the life of the Galapagos penguins. Thus, all of us have to come together and do something to protect these beautiful species from getting vanished.
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