Galapagos sees record rise in penguins, flightless cormorants
The Covid-19 pandemic has kept tourists away from the Galapagos, helping the species that live on the archipelago recoup.
Al Jazeera News :
The population of Galapagos penguins and flightless cormorants, two species endemic to the remote islands, has seen a record increase, according to study results released on Friday.
The Galapagos penguin is one of the smallest species of penguins in the world, measuring up to 35 centimetres (14 inches) and the cormorants on the islands are the only type to have lost their ability to fly. They have developed diving skills instead.
"The number of cormorants has reached a record number, according to historical data dating back to 1977, while the number of penguins is at the highest since 2006," said a statement from the Galapagos National Park, which carried out the census.
The population of Galapagos penguins, the only ones living on the earth's equator, increased from 1,451 in 2019 to 1,940 in 2020, it added.
Flightless cormorant numbers increased from 1,914 to 2,220 over the same period.
The Galapagos Islands lie 1,000 kilometres (625 miles) off the coast of Ecuador and are home to species found nowhere else in the world.
The study was carried out by the park and the Charles Darwin Foundation in September. The main colonies present on the Isabela and Fernandina islands and the Marielas islets which are to the west of the archipelago have been classified as a natural heritage site. Paulo Proano, Ecuador's minister of environment and water, said the census results reflect the "good state of health of the population" of the Galapagos' birds.