Galapagos Penguin Spheniscus mendiculus

  • Order: Sphenisciformes
  • Family: Spheniscidae
  • Monotypic
  • Authors: Annica Lila Carlson and Jens Steven Townsdin

Diet and Foraging


The Galapagos Penguin relies on cold upwellings produced by the Humboldt and Cromwell currents for their food supplies. Both male and females feed close to shore (within ca 60 m) on small fish such as sardines, mullets, anchovies and the Pacific piquitanga (Lile stolifera) (Vargas et al. 2007). They capture the fish by diving underneath the schools and then catching fish as they swim up, or by picking them off from the edges of the schools. Their feeding behavior provides access to the schools of fish for other seabirds such as Brown Noddy (Anous stolidus), Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis), and Flightless Cormorant (Phalacrocorax harrisi). These "feeding flocks" can last together anywhere from 20 minutes to all day, but the Galapagos Penguin is an integral part for keeping these schools close to the surface and the shore for other piscivorous birds (Mills 1998).

Foraging Behavior

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Recommended Citation

Carlson, A. L. and J. S. Townsdin (2012). Galapagos Penguin (Spheniscus mendiculus), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.