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Humboldt Penguin

Spheniscus Humboldti

Humboldt: Image


The Humboldt Penguin (Spheniscus humboldti) (also termed Peruvian Penguin, or Patranca) is a South American penguin, that breeds in coastal Peru and Chile. Its nearest relatives are the African Penguin, the Magellanic Penguin and the Galápagos Penguin. The penguin is named after the cold water current it swims in, which is itself named after Alexander von Humboldt, an explorer. Humboldt Penguins are medium-sized penguins, growing to 56–70 cm (22–28 in) long and a weight of 3.6-5.9 kg (8-13 lbs). They have a black head with a white border that runs from behind the eye, around the black ear-coverts and chin, and joins at the throat. They have blackish-grey upperparts and whitish underparts, with a black breast-band that extends down the flanks to the thigh. They have a fleshy-pink base to the bill. Juveniles have dark heads and no breast-band. They have spines on their tongue which they use to hold their prey. The current status of this penguin is threatened, due to a declining population caused in part by over-fishing, climate change, and ocean acidification. Historically it was the victim of guano over-exploitation. Penguins are also declining in numbers due to habitat destruction. The current population is estimated at between 3,300 and 12,000. In August 2010 the Humboldt penguin of Chile and Peru, was granted protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

Humboldt: Text


Humboldt Penguins nest on islands and rocky coasts, burrowing holes in guano and sometimes using scrapes or caves. In South America the Humboldt Penguin is found only along Pacific coast, and the range of the Humboldt Penguin overlaps that of the Magellanic Penguin on the central Chilean coast.


Breeding occurs year-round, but has two peaks, in May and July and from September to December. Reproductive success is reported as low, especially in Chile, though considerably higher at one rookery in Peru (Punta San Juan).


It feeds on schooling anchoveta, squid and other small fish, mainly caught in inshore waters, with failed breeders travelling further afield


The primary threats for this species are mortality caused by entanglement in artisanal fishery nets, illegal capture for consumption and the pet trade. Historical declines resulted from over-exploitation of guano. Guano is still harvested in Peru, and likely limits the availability of preferred nesting habitat and more recent underlying declines probably relate to over-fishing of anchoveta stocks. Other threats include capture for use as fish bait, use of explosives by fishermen, mining activities, human disturbance, predation by Andean fox, rats and cats, and marine pollution. One of the major breeding sites in northern Chile is currently threatened by the construction of two coal-fired power stations

Humboldt: Text
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