• manchot_humbolt
  • manchot_humbolt

Humboldt Penguins

Spheniscus humboldti

Weight:

3.5 to 5kg (5 to 9.5 lbs)

Size:

65 to 70 cm
Birds
Piscivore
Oceans and seas
South America

Interesting facts

The Humboldt Current is a cold-water ocean current at the surface of the Pacific Ocean. It maintains a high-pressure zone along the coastlines of Chile and Peru, which staves off the generation of rainfall.  

Conservation

Vulnerable

This penguin, as an adult, has a white belly and a black back like all penguin species.  Its head is black with a white stripe that begins behind its eyes and goes down to its throat.

Environment and behavior

The Humboldt penguin is gregarious and lives in large colonies, where it uses a range of vocalizations to communicate during courtship and fights within the population. There is no real reproduction period. The female usually lays two eggs. The male and female take turns sitting on them for about forty days. Newborns are covered with a dark gray down.  During the first two months, chicks stay with one of the parents. The parents then leave them to go fishing together. When the chicks are about three months old, their greyish plumage starts to appear, different from that of the adults. This is a sign that it is time to go and learn to fish. They will take on their final coloring after their first molting.

Predators

Killer whales, leopard seals, sea lions, foxes, snakes, and giant petrels.

 

Threats

The population suffered from a very severe decline, following the intensive exploitation of guano from popular nesting sites in Peru and northern Chile, in the mid-19th century.  Guano is the mass of seabird droppings that accumulate in their living environments.  It is an extremely efficient natural fertilizer, highly concentrated in nitrogen, phosphorus and trace elements. The population decreased from hundreds of thousands of animals to 16,000 to 20,000, and then about 5,000 to 6,000, after El Niño in 1982 and 1983. Other threats to Humboldt penguins include overfishing, pollution and habitat disturbances.