Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Penguin 'condos' built along Galapagos Islands

“Condo” developers have built beachfront homes along the world-famous coastline of the Galapagos Islands—but it’s all for a good cause. Built into the volcanic shoreline, the condos are actually tiny breeding caves for Galapagos penguins—a species listed as endangered.

The 120 caves were recently dug by researchers with the University of Washington in the hopes of giving the penguins a fighting chance against predators and the beating sun. The local penguin population has also seen older nests disappear due to erosion and volcanic activity on the islands off Ecuador made famous by Charles Darwin.

“Our whole goal is to increase the population of Galapagos penguins, and the way to do that is to make sure that when conditions are good, when they’re not food challenged, that all of them will be able to breed,” lead researcher Dee Boersma said.

Boersma began studying the species 40 years ago and has seen the population decline steadily—fewer than 2,000 might be all that are left.

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