The Humboldt penguin has recieved its name after the arctic Humboldt ocean current off South America’s west coast. Humboldt penguins are becoming increasingly rare due to their habit to feed in nutrient-rich currents that give rise to large production of planktons and fish. However today over-fishing creates a problem for the penguins.
The body length is 40–50 cm and weight about 4–6 kg.
Penguins can not fly with their short wings, but swim with them, and also use their feet, which are stretched backwards, like a rudder. They are extremely fast and skilled swimmers.
Small fish, especially anchovies and sardines, but also small squids and crustaceans.
About 17 years.
In addition to overfishing they are affected by the periodic climatic phenomenon known as El Niño when availability of plankton is drastically reduced, thus also fish availability which has a great impact on the number of penguins. Many penguins are drowning in fishing nets and increasing pollution and hunting are other threats that affect the Humboldt penguins very negatively today.
The female digs a burrow and lays two eggs which she incubates for about 40 days.
53 metres is the maximum depth the Humboldt penguin will dive to. However, the water depth around their colonies is rarely as deep as that. They can also swim long distances and when hunting, may travel over 26 km before returning to feed their young.
Humans have long been a threat to the Humboldt penguin. Today the issues are fishing and environmental problems but historically humans have also exploited the penguins’ excrements (guano). The guano is used to extract phosphate and nitrate, which are used in the production of fertilizer and explosives among other things.