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Galapagos Penguins and El Nino

Discovering and responding to climate and weather change
© Penguin Studies View Large

University of Washington professor Dee Boersma is concerned about Galápagos Penguins because of the increased frequency of El Nino. So Dee's team and their partners at the Galápagos National Park recently built about 120 "penguin condos." These are lava burrows near the coast, most between half a meter and two meters above high tide. Learn more at

Full Transcript



Galápagos Penguins and El Nino

Interview of Dr. Dee Boersma by Chris Peterson

This is BirdNote!
[Call of Galápagos Penguin (mating moan) + waves]
Mary McCann: University of Washington professor Dee Boersma cares deeply about Galápagos Penguins.

Dee Boersma: I went to the Galápagos for the first time in 1970, ‘cuz I thought “What a bizarre thing… What is a penguin doing living on the Equator? It’s because the Galápagos, they’re unusually cold for an equatorial region.
MM: It can be a **very trying environment.

DB: The Galápagos Penguins really have a hard time with heat stress…. So black lava and of course the black and white tuxedos that penguins have, when you’re standing in the sun, it gets pretty hot! It’s not so bad if you can jump in the water, but when you have to raise young and lay eggs, you gotta find a place that’s really shady.

MM: Dee has been studying these endangered penguins for a long time. She discovered that an increase in El Niño activity threatened penguin nest sites. So in 2010 Dee’s team and their partners at Galápagos National Park built about 120 “penguin condos” two meters above the high tide line.

DB: I care about penguins ‘cuz I guess I fell in love with them… hearing their haunting cry in the evening as they’re getting ready to breed and look for mates, I just found it so magical.

To see photos, come to our website,

Sounds of Galápagos Penguins recorded by Dee Boersma.
Producer: John Kessler
Managing Producer: Jason Saul
Associate Producer: Ellen Blackstone
© 2018 Tune In to          October 2018     Narrator:  Mary McCann

ID#    penguin-boersmad-01-2011-05-02 penguin-boersmad-01b

Related field notes: