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Penguin Species in Danger of Extinction

Penguin Species in Danger of Extinction

The African penguin is in serious danger of becoming extinct.

The Boston Globe reports on the troubles facing the African penguin; unsurprisingly humanity is once again responsible for the damage. The seas surrounding their habitats in South Africa and Namibia have been overfished by commercial boats. Climate change has also driven the penguin’s food sources away.

All of this — in addition to oil spills – has created a terrifying one-two punch for the African penguin, whose numbers have been dropping at rates so fast they are alarming scientists.

Our desire for seafood has created many problems for the natural environment. Commercial boats have overfished to the point where fish stocks are being depleted. Destroying the food supply of other species puts more than just the survival of sea animals at risk.

Our industrialized culture is also a threat to the penguin on multiple levels. Firstly, human transportation is a large contributor to global climate change, but still smaller than animal agriculture. And between ships and rigs, there have been oil spills in recent years which are also negatively impacting the penguins themselves, as well as their food supply.

Jessica Kemper, senior seabird biologist for Namibia’s ministry of fisheries and marine resources says the African penguin is in “big time” trouble, and may go extinct in this century. Scientists are startled by the fact that in the last eight years, the African penguin population has dropped by almost 66 percent.

Over half of the world’s penguin species are in serious population declines.

I certainly don’t agree with prioritizing animals based on their attractiveness to humans, but penguins are very media-friendly animals. Between movies like Happy Feet, March of the Penguins and Madagascar, penguins have engendered a lot of affection from human beings. When an animal that humans care so much about is in danger, it is easy to garner sympathy and action to help them.

But what we have to realize is that all animal issues are interconnected. We cannot help the penguins if we continue to eat seafood. The commercial fishing industry is destroying the food sources of penguins and other species to satisfy our arbitrary tastes. We cannot help the penguins if we continue to farm animals for food, as animal agriculture is a larger contributor to global climate change than transportation. And climate change is destroying the penguins’ habitats and food supplies.

Respecting the life of one animal requires that we respect the lives of all animals.

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Photo: Paul Mannix

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1:24PM PST on Jan 26, 2013

We should protect the oceans much better instead of fishing so much that we empty them.

4:48AM PST on Jan 25, 2013

Let's do something before we can only see them in books

1:25PM PST on Jan 15, 2013

please visit


(and then share it)

10:00PM PDT on Nov 1, 2010

I don't eat seafood fact, I don't eat any meat at all.

8:29AM PDT on Oct 24, 2010

Monique, you have said it all - 6.8 billion and counting!!

1:13PM PDT on Oct 6, 2010

I´ts nice to read this but the only way to help the animals is stop producing people!!!

6:05PM PDT on Sep 23, 2010

Overfishing isn't just hurting the penguins. It is hurting marine ecosystems all over the globe.

5:05AM PDT on Sep 21, 2010

And yet another creature affected by the way we live. It's such a shame.

12:47PM PDT on Sep 19, 2010

When I realized how damaging my meat consumption really is to mother earth, I switched to being almost entirely vegetarian (I still eat the occasional sandwich deli meats). In doing so I started to eat a bit more & develop a liking for fish & seafood... only to find out now that it really is just an equally terrible thing to do! Bummer I like food so much, but the only right thing to do is obvious here: quit eating both meat & seafood :( Oh well, it needs to be done... I guess I don't mind giving up something I like for the greater good! And I'll get that hybrid as soon as I can afford it! :)

9:33AM PDT on Sep 18, 2010

It's amazing how men can destroy everything they touch. They never think at the consequences, somebody else will think about.
I'm vegetarian and hope this choice will help even these poor penguins

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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Kathleen J. Kathleen is currently the Activism Coordinator at Care2. more
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