In a recent press release, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced five penguin species would be listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act: the yellow-eyed penguin, white-flippered penguin, Fiordland crested penguin, Humboldt penguin, and erect-crested penguin. The five penguin species live in Peru, Chile, and New Zealand. The legal protections prohibit importing or exporting of the five species, for anything other than scientific purposes. The import and export prohibitions also include parts of the animals, or products containing parts. In addition their interstate or foreign commerce is not allowed.
The threat to the penguins from climate change was not addressed by the extra legal protections, however. The Center for Biological Diversity stated its disappointment with the climate change omission. Biologist Shaye Wolf stated: “Protecting these penguins under the Endangered Species Act gives them a chance at survival. Sadly, in today’s finding the Obama administration failed to acknowledge climate change as a threat. It won’t be able to help penguins survive the climate crisis if it doesn’t admit that it’s a problem.”
The Humboldt penguin is found in Chile and Peru. The yellow-eyed, white-flippered, Fiordland crested, and erect-crested penguin species are all found in New Zealand. Humboldt penguins are believed to number from 3,000-12,000. Their population has diminished due to exploitation of their habitat. Also some have been accidentally caught during commercial fishing, and killed by the practice of fishing with explosives.
Erect-crested Penguins are endangered, though their population is larger. They live only in the New Zealand subantarctic region, mainly on the Antipodes and Bounty Islands, with some around the Auckland and Campbell islands.
Two other penguin species are still under review to see if they will be included in the list of threatened penguins. Lawsuits are pending to have an additional two species reviewed: the emperor and northern rockhopper penguins.
Image Credit: twittleblat