Magellanic penguins rank among Argentina’s cutest animal species. Which makes their current predicament all the more frustrating. The last few years have been rough with various threats to their survival popping up as a result of pollution and climate change.
But it looks like all was not lost in 2016, when — since the end of November, nestled in the penguin shelter at the Marine World Foundation, Magellanic penguins have been breeding and at the time of writing, 10 births have been recorded.
The hatchlings’ — weighing in at a mere 90 grams each – that’s less than a bar of soap — arrival is very good news for scientists working to save this particular type of penguin after it was placed on the endangered species list in the 1990s. This is definitely a feat worthy of celebrating given the abundance of threats that these little guys face in the wild. Hydrocarbons (and the humans responsible for placing them in the environment) seem to be the bad guys here. Trained professionals and volunteers are of the utmost importance in saving the birds from the harmful effects of a changing environment. With rising amounts of toxic algae, the abundance of fish nets, and an increased frequency of oil spills – surviving has never been more difficult.
As chicks, the penguins are heavily dependent on both their parents, as when one incubates, the other goes out to sea to feed. As a result, it’s imperative to try to simultaneously save both the adults when disaster strikes — because the chicks cannot survive without their parents.
There is a special area in Marine World where Magellanic chicks have been born with the assistance of a specially-trained team ever since its founding in 1992. The chicks are weighed and fed every day for two months until they are able to eat solid food on their own.
The help of individuals from the foundation has successfully combatted the damaging effects of the oil industry and helped over 2500 little penguins – 90% of whom have been successfully rehabilitated.