What’s endangering the Penguin population
Always appearing to be dressed for a black-tie affair, penguins are a beloved bird species. Waddling, but never flying, they are aquatic birds that live almost solely in the southern hemisphere. A few types of penguins live in temperate climates such as the Galapagos penguins which live near the equator. Splitting their time almost equally between land and water, many penguins are facing various threats that compromise their continued existence. Dangers such as predators, weather, fishing, and their own cumbersome movements contribute to their endangerment.
The various threats for Penguins
Climate change is the variation in temperatures and weather conditions in differing parts of the earth. Higher than usual temperatures in places such as Antartica have caused damage to the natural habitat of penguins there. Typically using ice to build nests and find food, penguins are facing limited resources as large amounts of ice melt. Where penguins could at one time find hiding spaces and tools for feeding themselves, now their resources are more limited.
Hunting and fishing are also high on the list of dangers that threaten the lives and existence of penguins. Oftentimes penguins are “bycatch”, or animals not intended to be caught, in the nets of local fishermen. When penguins are caught in nets, they are not able to resurface for the air they need to breathe and often drown. Another problem brought about by fishing is the overfishing of anchovies, which is the Humboldt penguins’ favorite food source. Reducing the amount of their food source is yet another reason for the reduction in the penguin population. Though not as common now, sometimes penguins are hunted for their fat and other body parts. In past eras, millions of penguins were killed for use of their fat, flesh, bones, and skin.
Various predatory animals
Penguins find themselves in a vulnerable situation when they can not quickly escape from predators. Though they are agile and accomplished swimmers, they are not as speedy on land, and though they have wings and feathers, penguins are flightless birds. These bodily limitations put them at risk in the face of predators such as leopard seals and sea lions. Killer whales also hunt for penguins though they are not a typical diet for these mammals.
Unsuspecting predators of penguins are what can be called “introduced predators.” Cats, dogs, snakes, foxes and other animals brought from other cultures and climates often feed on the eggs and chicks of penguins. Seagulls and even pumas have been known to prey on penguins making their list of potential predators quite extensive. Even their breeding habits make them susceptible to endangerment since they only lay one or two eggs a season. Because of this, they are not able to replace high losses in their population quickly. Not only that but penguin guano, used in some fertilizers, is often over-harvested leaving nests that rely on a buildup of guano destroyed.
Increased global travel and tourism is another contributing factor to the endangerment of penguins. The building of roads, bridges, and new buildings sometimes destroy their natural habitats. Being too up close and personal with people touring through their habitats also brings change to their living patterns and eventual damage to those spaces.
Finally, pollution and contamination of oceans and shorelines provide many dangers to penguins. Trash that is dumped from ships or finds its way into the ocean from the shoreline often finds its way into the bodies of penguins causing an array of injuries, illnesses, and danger. Oil spills disrupt the natural ability of a penguin’s feathers leaving it susceptible to hypothermia and a lack of waterproofing.
Changes in weather patterns and temperatures, varying types of predators, over-fishing, poaching, tourism, and pollution are among the many factors that contribute to the endangerment of penguins. Thankfully, there are also many organizations that put effort into protecting them and educating others about their unique needs and beloved characteristics. These are just some of the issues that are endangering Penguin populations, but we can keep our efforts moving forward and hopefully, our tuxedo loving and feathered friends will continue to thrive because of these initiatives.
If you want to help these awesome little creatures, check out our penguin brand shop! 10% of all profits go to conservation efforts working to preserve the Penguin populations. We strive on being a charitable clothing company and giving back to the world we live in.