Penguins are a family of special seabirds: over the years, they have lost their ability to fly but have developed a great ability to swim. At present, 18 species of penguins are known and all of them inhabit the coasts and oceans of the southern hemisphere. Many of these species are vulnerable to extinction or are even in danger of extinction.
The Galapagos penguins , whose scientific name is Spheniscus mendiculus , are an endemic species to the Galapagos Islands. It is one of the smallest penguins that exist. Unfortunately, this endemic species is in danger of extinction , mainly due to the deterioration of its habitat, poaching and climate change.
The African penguin ( Spheniscus demersus ) , also called the Cape or spectacled penguin, is the only species of penguin that lives in Africa. According to the Red Lists of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, it is listed in danger of extinction and, if no measures are taken in this regard, it is estimated that by 2026 it could become extinct.
The Magellanic penguin ( Spheniscus magellanicus ) inhabits the southern coasts and islands of Argentina and Chile and migrates to Uruguay and even Brazil during the winter. Now, is the Magellanic penguin in danger of extinction ? In principle no, but it has been shown that their populations are decreasing due to the hunting of their specimens and the disturbances in their habitat, for that reason they present a certain degree of vulnerability. Fortunately, there are natural reserves, both in Argentina and Chile, destined for their conservation.
Another of the penguins in a state of vulnerability is the Humboldt penguin ( Spheniscus humboldti ) , precisely classified as a species vulnerable to extinction because it is used as a gastronomic product. It is a species that inhabits the coast of Peru and Chile, particularly in the Humboldt current, hence its name.
Like the aforementioned species, the macaroni penguin ( Eudyptes chrysolophus ) is vulnerable to extinction . The main causes are hunting and climate change that causes modifications to their habitat.
This particular species is characterized by orange feathers on its head and an exclusively insular distribution that includes the Falkland Islands , South Georgia, South Sandwich, South Orkney and South Shetland, Bouvet Islands, Prince Edward Islands, Islands Crozet, Kerguelen Islands, Heard and McDonald Islands, and also in Antarctica .
The Antipodean penguin or Sclater penguin ( Eudyptes sclateri ) is another species of the genus Eudyptes but, unlike the previous one, it is in danger of extinction . Its main threat is climate change. What makes this penguin unique is the presence of two yellow crests over its eyes and also its distribution, since it is only found in the subantarctic archipelagos of New Zealand, however, it has occasionally been seen near the Islands. Falklands.
Continuing with the species of the genus Eudyptes , the northern rock jumping penguin ( Eudyptes moseleyi ) is also in danger of extinction , caused by hunting, climate change and the pollution of its habitats by effluents of industrial and military origin. Its appearance is similar to that of the Antipodes, but it is exclusively distributed in the Tristan Da Cunha Archipelago and the Gough Islands.
The Snares penguin ( Eudyptes robustus ) , which inhabits the Snares Islands of New Zealand, is characterized by having a white crest over its eyes. Currently, this penguin species is classified as vulnerable to extinction . The causes that contribute to their vulnerability are climate change , pollution and hunting.
Ending with the genus Eudyptes , we will mention the southern rockhopper penguin ( Eudyptes chrysocome ) , which is the smallest of the crested penguins. As its name implies, it has a yellow crest that extends behind its eyes. It is classified as vulnerable to extinction and the causes of its vulnerability are similar to those described above. Regarding its distribution, it differs according to the subspecies:
- E. chrysocome chrysocome : found in the southern coasts and islands of Chile and Argentina
- E. chrysocome filholi : It is distributed in the Prince Edward Islands, Crozet Islands, Kerguelen Islands, Heard Island, Macquarie Island, Campbell Islands, Antipodes Islands and New Zealand.
Finally, we cannot fail to mention the yellow-eyed penguin ( Megadyptes antipodes ) , which stands out from the other species, neither more nor less, due to the presence of yellow eyes. Regarding its distribution, it is found in the south-east of New Zealand. Today, it is classified as an endangered species since it is estimated that there are only 2,600 to 3,000 specimens of the species in the wild.
If you have come this far, you will have noticed that the main factors that put the different species of penguins in danger of extinction are climate change, pollution, hunting and poor management of commercial fisheries. So how can we help? Simple! Here we will propose two daily habits that will help preserve penguins :
- Reduce the use of plastics, properly manage your waste and use biodegradable products. In this way, you will be reducing waste and chemical products that end up in the oceans and contribute to their pollution.
- Eat more plant foods than animals. Both meat production and the fishing industry are two activities that strongly contribute to climate change, the main factor that alters penguins’ habitat. In addition, by having a plant-based diet, you will cooperate to stop hunting penguins and also to avoid mismanagement of fisheries.