Save the Humboldt penguins

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The Humboldt Penguin (Spheniscus humboldti ) is a South American penguin, breeding in coastal Peru and Chile. Its nearest relatives are the African Penguin, the Magellanic Penguin and the Galápagos Penguin. They are named after the cold Humboldt Current running from the Antarctic to the equator. Humboldt Penguins are medium-sized penguins, growing to 65-70 cm (26-28 in) long and reaching a weight of 3.6-5.9 kg (8-13 lbs).

 

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Page author: Stefan Austermühle

Reviewed by: Sean Minns

Last updated: 2010.06.19.

 

 

Range and habitat of the Humbolt penguin (Spheniscus humboldti)

 
Humboldt penguins are only found along the Pacific coast of South America, from Isla Foca (5°S) off the coast of Peru, down to Algarrobo (33°s) in Chile, with additional isolated colonies further to the south on the Punihuil Islands (42°S).

 

Humboldt penguins nest on islands and rocky coastal cliffs. Originally they burrowed theri nests in the layers of guano from other seabird species but nowadays they mostly use holes, small caves and  cracks in the rocks.

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Humboldt penguins show a high fidelity to their breeding sites. Humboldt penguins from Pan de Azúcar Island in Chile tend to stay within a 35 km radius of their nests to catch food for themselves and their chicks, and the total area of foraging covered 12,255 km2. Of nineteen birds tagged at the breeding colony of Algarrobo in Chile the majority of birds recovered were within 50 km of the colony. However, it was also found that four, and possibly a fifth individual travelled more than 140 km from the colony and one travelled almost 600 km from the colony, although it was not known whether any of these individuals were breeding or raising chicks at the time.

 

There is evidence that Humboldt penguins do cover large distances, particularly in response to food shortages or changes in environmental conditions as are seen during winter and El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events. Recovery patterns after the 1982/83 and 1997/1998 ENSO events suggest that long-distance migration might be important for the recovery of penguin colonies during those times.

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Feeding of the Humbolt penguin (Spheniscus humboldti)

 

Using their strong wings as flippers, Humboldt penguins ’fly’ underwater, usually just below the surface, at speeds of up to 20 miles per hour, taking small fish and krill and eating them whole. They steer with their feet and tail. Their feathers are stiff and overlap to waterproof and insulate their body. Like all penguins, they have excellent eyesight both underwater and on land.

 

Humboldt penguins have spines on their tongue which they use to hold their prey. Adults feed close to shore, taking various species of fish (Engraulis ringens, Sardinops sagax, Odonthestes r.regia, Normanichthys crockeri, Scomberesox sp.), squid (Todarodes fillippovae) and crustaceans. Most foraging is done at depths of less than 60m, often amongst weed beds, but they have been known to reach depths of up to 150m.

 

Humboldt penguins have a gland which enables them to drink salt water in addition to fresh water; the gland concentrates excess salt which then dribbles down the bill.

 

Raising of young Humbolt penguin (Spheniscus humboldti)

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Humboldt penguins are social animals, living in relatively large colonies of closely spaced burrows where communication becomes quite important. Humboldt Penguins are capable of breeding at 2 years of age. Mated penguins are able to recognize one another and their offspring through a combination of sight and voice. Colonies are beneficial because they provide collective defense against predators such as skuas and gulls. The burrows provide safe nesting places in addition to helping regulate body temperatures in the varying conditions of the temperate climate they nest in.

 

Egg-laying can occur at any time of year between March and December, although two peaks of activity occur around April-May and September-October, depending on the locality. It is quite common for Humboldt Penguins to rear two successive broods in a single season, when conditions are favorable. This results in a yearly cycle which comprises of a 2 month moult period, followed by two 5 month breeding cycles. As a consequence, Humboldt penguins can be seen around their breeding sites throughout the year. 

 

Two equally sized eggs are laid with a 2-4 day interval, in burrows, rocky crevices or surface scrapes. Incubation takes about 40-42 days, with both adults changing incubation duties regularly. The major causes of egg loss are from flooding of nests during ocean storms in southern Chile, as well as accidental breakage, nest desertion, and predation by gulls.

 

Chicks hatch about two days apart, and are fed on a daily basis, with adults leaving the colony in early morning, and returning with food later the same day. The time spent foraging for food increases as the chicks become larger, and require more food. Chicks remain within the nest until they have fully developed plumage. Even then, chicks rarely stray far from the nest prior to fledging.

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The fluffy first plumage is brownish-grey above and creamy white beneath, and in conjunction with metabolic changes, it enables the chick to maintain its own body temperature. This allows both adults to leave the burrow to feed, in order to meet the ever increasing demands placed upon them by the growing chicks. 

 

The chicks fledge at about 10-12 weeks of age, and leave the breeding site for several months to forage at sea. The fledglings have similar markings to the adults, except that they are drabber and lack the black line down the sides of the abdomen. Breeding success rates can be very variable, but are generally in the range of 0.5 to 1 chick fledged per clutch. Adults show high pair fidelity, with most pair-bonds remaining unless one partner dies.

 

Life expectancy of the Humbolt penguin (Spheniscus humboldti)

 

Humboldt penguins live approximately 20 years in the wild; up to 30 years in captivity.

 

Population estimates for the Humbolt penguin (Spheniscus humboldti)

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In the mid 19th century the population of the Humboldt penguin may have been over a million birds since which it has been declining. Murphy (1936) emphasized a decline in numbers by the 1930s. Particular declines have been observed subsequent to El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events. The 1982-1983 ENSO event reduced the population from 19,000-21,000 birds to just 5,180-6,080. The 1992/1993 El Niño was relatively weak and a marked decline in penguin numbers was not observed. Instead the population was rising and by 1995-1996 and it had increased to 10,000-12,000 birds, mainly at Punta San Juan (3,400 birds) and Isla Pachacamac (800) in Peru, and Isla Pan de Azucar (1,750), Isla de Chañaral (2,500), Isla Pájaros (1,000), Islote Cachagua (2,000) and ex-Islote Pájaros Niño (1,600) in Chile. However, the 1997-1998 ENSO reduced the population again to 3,300 birds.

 

In 1998, a population and habitat viability analysis using computer modeling suggested that extinction was likely within 100 years, with the possibility of a remnant population at Punta San Juan remaining in certain situations. The overall reduction in the number of breeding colonies indicates that there might be an ongoing underlying decline in both range and population. However, it was also found that the breeding colony range of the penguin has not decreased in Peru in the last 15 years although the distribution of colonies within the range has changed. Indeed, the occurrence of the Humbolt penguin was noted for the first time on La Isla Metalqui near Chiloe in Chile in 1996. It is not clear if data indicating fluctuations in penguin numbers reflect a migration of penguins from one colony to another or if they represent a recovery/decline of the population.

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Humboldt penguins in Peru

Recent estimates from 1999 and 2000 indicated that there were less than 5,000 Humboldt penguins left in Peru. 22 colonies were found in Peru, 14 of which showed signs of breeding. In addition the size and distribution of colonies in Peru has changed from the mid 1980s until the present, with some colonies increasing in size (e.g. Punta San Juan) and others reducing in size or being abandoned (e.g. Punta Corio, La Chira). In Peru, colonies were found in at least 17 guano-producing areas but only five colonies were larger than 100 breeding pairs.

 

Humboldt penguins in Chile

Counts in 1995-1996 showed a conservative total of 7,500 birds in Chile with a 1995-1996 estimate of 1,050 breeding birds in the Coquimbo region. However, about 10,300 birds were counted in the Coquimbo Region of Northern Chile alone (7,619 on land and 2,700 at sea) during the moulting season of February 1999. 16,262 penguins were counted in a survey of Chañaral Island in 2002. These latest figures improve the overall situation of the species population. However, considerable reductions in the populations of the Humboldt Penguin have been seen on some islands within the Pinguino de Humboldt Penguin Reserve, as well as in Pan de Azucar Island.

 

Conservation Status of the Humbolt penguin (Spheniscus humboldti)

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Unless mitigating measures are taken to reduce the impacts currently being exerted on this small population, the species will be extinct within a few decades.

  • IUCN status: Vulnerable on Red List 2000 – estimated at 40,000 in the wild; The Humboldt Penguin was classified by IUCN (2002) as Vulnerable on the basis that the extent of occurrence was estimated to be less than 20,000 km² or area of occupancy estimated to be less than 2,000 km², and estimates indicated a continuing decline (inferred, observed or projected) in the extent of occurrence, the area of occupancy, the area, extent and/or quality of habitat, and the number of locations or subpopulations and number of mature individuals; and extreme fluctuations in the extent of occurrence and the area of occupancy; and the population was estimated to number less than 10,000

    mature individuals with an estimated continuing decline of at least 10% within 10 years or three generations, whichever is longer.

  • The Humboldt penguin is listed on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)
  • The Humboldt penguin is listed in CMS Appendix I.  It was designated for Concerted Action by the 6th Conference of the Parties of CMS
  • In Chile the Humboldt Penguin is considered Vulnerable. There is a 30-year moratorium (from 1995) (Decreto Supremo No. 225 de 11 noviembre de 1995 de Ministerio de Economía, Fomento y Reconstrucción) on hunting and capture of Humboldt penguins.
  • In Chile Humboldt Penguins are protected within the Humboldt penguin Reserve and Isla Cachagua Natural Monument. Colonies such as the Isla Chañaral and the Choros Islands, Pan de Azucar and Punihuil are also protected.
  • In Peru the Humboldt penguin was listed as Vulnerable in Peru in 1977 but in 1991 it was upgraded to Endangered in the Peruvian red list. The Statutory Instrument of 1990 ‘Resolución Ministerial – Categorización de especies de fauna silvestre No.1082/1990 lists Spheniscus humboldti as Endangered and prohibits for an indefinite period of time the taking, capturing, transport, trade and export of all listed species except for scientific or cultural purposes
  • Since January 2010 about 60 % of the breeding populations of Humboldt penguins are at least legally protected by the existing Paracas National Reserve and the recently declared National Reserve Guano Islands and Cliffs.

 

However, neither Chile nor Peru have implemented particular restrictions to limit fishing activities in response to food shortages to safeguard the penguin population. In Peru there is no management of artisanal use of small-scale driftnets, and although the retaining of by-caught penguins is prohibited, enforcement is inadequate.

 

El Niño effects on the penguin population

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The coastline along which the Humboldt penguin is found is particularly susceptible to the influences of El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events, which occasionally bring seasons of extreme food shortage. During such years, cool nutrient rich waters which normally flow northwards along the coast of Chile and Peru, become displaced by warmer nutrient poor waters flowing from the central Pacific.

 

The warming of sea temperatures during ENSO events results in prey species moving far offshore, forcing penguins to follow, often resulting in the disruption of the breeding season and the death of some adults. The impact of the ENSO can be devastating and has led to abandonment of broods and chicks. The occurrence of El Niño from 1982 to 1983 is thought to have caused the loss of some 65% of the Peruvian and 72% of Chilean populations of Humboldt Penguins. The 1997/1998 El Niño event was the strongest recorded in history and resulted in a further marked decline in Humboldt penguins. 

 

However, it would appear that Humboldt penguins have the ability to survive such marked reductions following ENSO events, if additional human-related threats and pressures are minimized: This is because Humboldt penguins are well-adapted to cope with changes in food supply in order to avoid natural extinction. Thus, they have a high breeding frequency and in “good years” some pairs can have two clutches (they lay two eggs per clutch) in a year and successfully rear four chicks. They can also reach sexual maturity at an early age (2 years) and replace clutches if they lose their eggs. Recruitment of young birds into the adult population is very important for Humboldt penguins. In good years, up to 30%-35% of chicks that leave their nests return to their colonies the following years. This is a high rate of recruitment for a penguin, but in poor years only a few will survive and come back. The resources they depend upon at sea are crucial for their conservation and some data shows that when anchovy biomass is high in the southern coast, more fledglings will be back the next year.

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Humboldt penguins are generalist predators, and this is also an advantage in an unpredictable environment. Although anchovies, silversides and squid are the preferred preys, Humboldt penguins can feed on more than 50 different species of fish when anchovies are not available. Even if anchovies are not available for other seabirds (anchovies migrate to deep cold waters in warm years), Humboldt penguins can dive deep (up to 150 m) to reach them.

 

The present extinction threat exists because the natural deaths that occurred during the El Nino events is worsened by additional human-caused impacts.  For example a permanent scarcity of anchovies caused by the commercial fishmeal industry, thus reducing breeding success and contributing to other impacts on the survival rates through the depletion of food resources. 

 

Historical threats for the Humbolt penguin (Spheniscus humboldti):

    

Penguins have been heavily hunted for their meat, oil, and skins. Penguin eggs were also collected. Hunting of adult birds on their breeding grounds was also a main cause of mortality in some localities. For example, until 1978 on Isla Mazorca and its satellite islands, between 70 and 200 were killed annually, out of a maximum population of 400 birds (Duffy et al., 1984). In addition, adults were usually killed on their nests, thus also causing the deaths of eggs or dependent young. Approximately 20-150 penguins were reported as killed or removed in 1997 by humans annually in the Punta San Juan area.

 

Live capture of Humboldt penguins for zoos

 

At least 10,000 wild Humboldt penguins were exported to foreign zoos between 1939 and 1978, a number much larger than that found in the wild. In September 1977, the Peruvian Government classified the Humboldt Penguin as a vulnerable species and in 1981 this bird was listed in Appendix I (endangered status) of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which prohibits international trade.

 

As a reaction to this prohibition zoos established captive breeding programs, which they labeled as supposedly being  conservation measures. Such a so called Species Survival Plan for captive penguins is managed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The goal is to control the breeding of Humboldt penguins in order to maintain a healthy and self-sustaining population in captivity that does not need further wild capture. In fact this is just a way of green-washing while trying to ensure that penguins can be exhibited in the long run. There are no plans to reintroduce penguins to the wild, which would be a logical step to take for a real Species Survival Plan. AZA also does not invest money in conservation projects of the Humboldt penguin in the wild but only grants to affiliated zoos.

 

Habitat destruction

    

The Italian naturalist Antonio Raymondi once visited the Islas Chincha in Central Peru, in the middle of the 1800s. He was amused to find “hundred of thousands” Humboldt penguins breeding in burrows dug by themselves in the guano deposits (guano = bird droppings used as a rich soil fertilizer). By that time, the Peruvian Government allowed some European countries to harvest the guano. Guano was mined from the islands with adverse effects not only on birds that produced it (cormorants, boobies and pelicans), but also on seabirds that depended upon it. Humboldt penguins were maybe one of the most affected as they use the guano for building their burrows and because they do not fly, becoming easy target for guano workers. If you visit the Islas Chincha now, you will only see some scattered groups of penguins on the small islets. Penguin numbers on these islands do not exceed 100 birds.

 

Present threats for the Humbolt penguin (Spheniscus humboldti):

 

Guano harvest

 

The Peruvian government still harvests guano and most of the times this is done in an unsustainable way, often during the breeding period. For example the guano harvest at Punta San Juan, Peru’s largest Humboldt penguin colony which occurred directly after the 1982/1983 ENSO event caused the majority of penguins, that were about to breed for the first time since the ENSO event, to abandon the area. Additionally, alteration of the burrow substrate means that the penguins may nest in less than optimal sites and in the open where heat stress and predation may be increased. 

 

Guano harvest workers are regularly reported to trample their eggs. In addition, both eggs and penguins, are collected by many of the workers for food. A 1998 agreement between the Wildlife Conservation Society and PROABONOS, the body in charge of guano exploitation, showed that such impacts can be avoided by fencing off penguin rookeries during the harvest and with observers remaining on site throughout the harvest, thus preventing the workers from taking penguins or eggs to supplement their income.

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Bycatch and direct hunting of Humboldt penguins

 

Accidental entanglement in gill-nets, and the deliberate hunting of adults for food and fishing bait, are the main causes of adult mortality in some areas.  Hundreds of Humboldt penguins are also caught and drowned in the nets of local fishermen every year. In the fishing port of San Juan, near Peru’s largest Humboldt penguin colony at Punta San Juan, between late 1991 and mid 1998, 922 bycaught Humboldt penguins were observed as fishermen landed their catch. Along a 14 km stretch of coastline in the Valparaiso region of central Chile between 1991 and 1996, at least 650 or an annual average of 120 adult penguins died in nets, with mortalities mostly occurring during the winter months when the penguins are not breeding. Although the retention of Humboldt penguins when accidentally caught is not permitted in Peru, fisherman often retain such bycatch for local consumption.

 

It was found that the number of Humboldt Penguins landed as bycatch varied significantly with the type of nets used and according to the target species fished, with drift gillnets producing higher mortalities than fixed gill nets.

 

It was concluded, on the basis of studies on foraging behaviour, that both males and females would be protected from incidental catches if commercial fisheries did not set surface nets at night, and avoided setting nets between 0 and 30 m depth during the day in areas where penguins forage and travel.

 

Another problem with local fishermen is that eggs are also taken from many breeding colonies, resulting in disturbance and reduced breeding success.  Capture of adult penguins for food also occurs and is not always for subsistence. In one case a fisherman was observed taking 150 penguins in preparation for a party. However, the consumption of penguin meat is mostly limited to Peru and northern Chile, and little predation has been reported from the rest of Chile.

 

Reduction of prey availability through large scale commercial fishing

 

The large scale fishing of anchovies for fish meal production eliminates a great part of the prey for many bird and mammal species in Peru where pelagic fish is the key element of the food chain. Since the start of industrial fishmeal fishing the guano-producing bird population has dropped in only sixty years by 95 percent from 40 million to roughly 2 million birds. Even though we do not include these population counts that could give scientific proof, it is only logical to think that this fishing has also contributed to population reductions of other species that depend on anchovies such as sea lions and penguins.

 

Live capture of Humboldt penguins

 

Although not very common, cases of Peruvian fishermen capturing penguins alive and keeping them as pets do occur.

 

Introduced species

 

    

Introduced predators such as rats, foxes, cats and dogs can have a detrimental impact on penguin populations. At Isla Pájaro Niño in Chile rats are numerous and are a threat to chicks and eggs; cats are seen regularly at Algarrobo in Chile and dogs have caused considerable mortality on a couple of occasions.

 

In addition, goats and sheep have been reported to trample and graze the burrowing grounds of the Humboldt penguin.

 

For the Peruvian breeding colonies located on islands introduced species are not a problem. For some of the mainland sites however, where walls and fences have deteriorated through a lack of  maintenance domestic predators have become a problem. Wild dogs are reported to reduce successful breeding on many mainland sites, particularly at Punta San Juan.

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Tourism impacts

    

The Humboldt penguin is one of the most timid species of penguins.  Human presence or activity in itself can cause

stress to the penguins. On the Punihuil islands off the coast of Chiloe in southern Chile, human disturbance like trampling as a result of unregulated tourist activity had a detrimental impact on the populations of both the Humboldt and Magellanic penguins that reside there.

 

In Peru access to the guano islands is restricted. So trampling and other direct contact between tourists and penguins is not a problem. However boat based wildlife observation tourism and unregulated recreational boating does cause an impact.

 

Animals observe us as we watch them. Some of our behaviors may be interpreted by animals as threatening. They overtly respond to intrusive human behavior with defensive-aggressive posturing, vocalization, even flight. All animals have escape distances, and when people intrude into this zone, animals move away.  These distances vary among species, individuals and environmental circumstances. Penguins resting on land react to boats closing in by first starting to walk either sidewards or up the rocks. If the boat continues to get closer without reacting on such behavioral clues showing the animals getting nervous, penguins will decide to flee into the water and swim away.

 

The problem can be avoided by determining minimum distances observing environmental clues and stopping the boat immediately or increasing distance slightly when penguins start walking. As long as they keep standing quietly boats are at a tolerable distance. Tourist and recreational boats need to move slowly and quietly when near wildlife. Tourists must be required to abstain from noisy behavior and fast movements in order to keep animal disturbance low. Tourist guides should not yell at animals to make them move or talk with microphones or megaphones.

 

A negative example is the tourism at the Ballestas Islands (now part of the Natonal Reserve of Paracas). As tourism still has not been regulated, minimum distances have not been determined and tourist guides and boat captains have not been trained, the boats get much too close to penguins. Usually it is only the first boats in the morning that can see penguins because they are the ones chasing the birds into the water and later during the day penguins do not return to the rocks as long as boats are there.

In Paracas and Asia island speed boats and wave runners are increasingly becoming a problem as these recreational boats are moving very fast and noisily.  However, people do not realize the disturbance they are causing, and there are neither signs, regulations or indeed vigililance from the authorities in place to prevent such activity.

Another threat are kayakers around Asia island which come rowing from the recreational beach where they rent the kayaks and where they are wrongly informed that it is permitted to actually step on the island’s beach for resting, when in reality that is illegal. Kayakers then walk along the beach or row very close to the shoreline disturbing not only penguins but also the other breeding marine birds causing nests to be abandoned and the death of chicks.

 

Mundo Azul’s associated travel operator Nature Expeditions offers dolphin-watching tours to Asia island and also visits the local penguin colony. Our scientist-guides however have managed to determine minimum distances and do stop the boat as soon as behavioral clues signal nervousness in the penguins. Based on this knowledge Nature Expeditions developed a Code of Conduct helping to avoid negative impacts of their tours. Tourists are required to stay silent and on these tours we manage to avoid chasing the penguins off the rocks. While visiting the island guides and boat drivers frequently stop kayakers and other recreational boats in order to inform them about human disturbance and ask them to maintain greater distance. So far Nature Expeditions tourism trips are the only opportunity to survey the local penguin colony and the unregulated tourism activity. By taking a marine birding trip or a dolphin-watching trip with Nature Expeditions you are actually contributing to penguin conservation.

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Conservation efforts in Peru: Protected areas

    

In the past some of the Penguin colonies have been located in the National Reserve of Paracas and others were part of the guano extraction system. Even though it is often mentioned that this ensured a certain level of conservation we believe that point of view is very much in doubt. In fact on all of these sites mismanaged guano extraction itself caused an important human disturbance and effective loss of live. Gunao island guards also never stopped penguins from being killed by hunters or fishing nets being set too close to the colonies as they first did not have the authority to do so and secondly they were neither educated nor required or sufficiently equipped and supported by authorities to protect the penguins.

 

Therefore Mundo Azul together with other national and international conservation groups has lobbied since 2001 for the declaration of the area of the Guano Islands and cliffs as a protected National Reserve in order to protect the majority of the existing Peruvian breeding colonies. After nine years of lobbying and significant watering down of the conservation level the Peruvian government declared the islands protected by the end of December 2009. The now existing National Reserve provides for the first time the legal framework in order to elaborate management plans and reduce the human impact of fishing, tourism and guano extraction by regulating it based on scientific data.

 However, to implement this is still a long way off. At the moment the new protected area does not have any financial resources. As a consultant to the Peruvian government, Stefan Austermühle, Executive Director of Mundo Azul calculated the financial needs for establishing a minimum level of infrastructure (boats, guard posts, buoy, staff training – not including operational costs) in approximately $ US 4 million to be raised in future.

Sustainable tourism, such as the one implemented by Mundo Azuls associated travel operator Nature Expeditions on the tour from Pucusana to Asia island may well be one of the best  options to generate funds for the management of the protected area. Mundo Azul and Nature Expeditions are committed to support the implementation of conservation measures in the new protected areas with all our means during the next decade to come. If you want to help us protect the penguins you can do so by becoming a conservation volunteer with Mundo Azul, supportng us financially or by doing marine birding or dolphin watching as well as sea kayaking with our associated travel operator Nature Expeditions.

 

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Needs and recommended conservation actions

 

Policy and legislation:

  • The establishment of fishing restriction zones around the breeding colonies in normal breeding seasons when foraging activities are concentrated within 35 km would greatly benefit the species.
  • In ENSO summers the foraging areas are extended by several kilometers. The establishment of fishing free zones in a flexible manner to address the particular threats to the species under ENSO stress conditions may be important for the long-term survival of the Humboldt Penguin.

 

Law enforcement

  • Adequate enforcement of existing legislation is essential. For example, no penalties or fines have ever been issued in Chile for deliberately taking penguin meat.
  • Surveillance of breeding colonies needs proper levels of funding

 

Species and habitat protection

  • Burrow nests in the guano deposits of the cliff tops or slopes are the best, so avoiding guano harvest in these nesting sites is decisive for its conservation. In order to secure the long-term survival of Humboldt penguins in Peru, the solution is to leave the guano untouched and to reduce the levels of disturbance and poaching during guano harvesting. This has been successfully done at Punta San Juan in 2001 through a signed agreement between the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) in Peru and PROABONOS (the Government agency in charge of the Guano Reserve System). This agreement allowed WCS to keep observers during harvests and to fence off the penguin colonies so they are excluded from harvesting. This should become standard practice during the guano harvest.
  • Artificial nests set on poor quality habitats may be another solution to increase breeding success of penguins.
  • All major colonies should be protected and guarded throughout the main breeding season.
  • Disturbances and illegal taking by humans should be prevented
  • Tourism should be adequately regulated.
  • The use of certain types of fishing nets should be restricted in penguin foraging areas.
  • It was found that the number of penguins bycaught varied according to the type of nets and target species. Higher mortalities were sustained when drift gill nets were used than when fixed gill nets were used.
  • Conservation efforts must not only be directed at the colonies and adjacent waters, but also at the penguins foraging and travelling ranges

 

Monitoring and research

  • Ongoing and new monitoring and surveying initiatives that should be promoted and financed include:
  • Development of an accurate and standardized census methodology for Humboldt penguins.
  • Assessment of the size and status of populations in both Chile and Peru.
  • Further satellite transmitter research, to find out whether particular landing areas are preferred by the species for fishing, to confirm regular staging landfall sites, and to determine if these areas should be designated as marine protected areas or have special protection needs.
  • However, care must be taken as data recording devices may alter foraging behavior and thus have potentially negative impacts.
  • Continued satellite tracking efforts to verify the southward distribution shift and migration pattern during ENSO events.
  • Standardization of population assessment methods is required.
  • Research into the number of penguins poached or bycaught should be undertaken.
  • Research into the impacts of regulated and non regulated tourism should be initiated.
  • Research into the impacts and feasibility of ecotourism should also be conducted.

 

Public awareness and training

  • Education and awareness programs to reduce hunting and bycatch of Humboldt Penguins should be established.

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Page author: Stefan Austermühle

 

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Whale watching                            Dolphin watching                                 Swimming o scuba-diving with sea lions

 

Sea lion observation                     Scuba diving                                                                         Pelagic birding

  

coastal marine birding               coastal wetland birding                                                     Urban birding in Lima

  

Protected bird site                                           Coastal desert oasis

Pantanos de Villa                                               Lomas de Lachay                                              Birding in the Andes

  

 

 

 

Please also support the following conservation campaigns

Save the dolphins          Save the sharks                                                                                         Save the sea lions

 

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Save marine turtles       Save marine birds                                                                                  Save marine otters