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Humboldt penguins mainly eat fish, such as anchovies, herring and hake, as well as squid. They catch their prey by diving underwater and chasing after it.
These penguins are found along the coasts of Peru and Chile, close to the Humboldt current, which is a cold ocean current containing lots of nutrients and sustaining lots of fish.
Humboldt penguins nest on islands and rocky coasts with cliffs and sea caves. They create nests in caves, crevices or scrapes (shallow depressions), or dig burrows into guano (bird droppings).
Not much is known about the predators of Humboldt penguins, but killer whales, great white sharks and South American fur seals are thought to prey on them at sea. On land, the main predators of these birds are desert foxes, and also gulls, which will prey on eggs. Introduced animals such as dogs and cats may also be predators of these penguins.
Humboldt penguins face a number of threats. These include entanglement in fishing nets, hunting for food and the pet trade, harvesting of guano for use as fertiliser, and being hunted by introduced species such as cats and dogs. More recently, overfishing is believed to be causing a decline in the numbers of this species.
Conservation measures that are in place to help this species include regular monitoring of colonies in Peru and Chile, the creation of protected nesting and foraging areas, and the removal of rodents from some nesting areas.
Size 65-70 cm
Gestation 40 days
Young 2 eggs are laid
Life span Up to 26 years
Penguins regularly dive up to 30m deep when catching prey! They have even been recorded diving to 53m.
Penguins have a special gland so they can deal with the high levels of salt in their diet. The excess salt is concentrated and then dribbles down their bill.
When swimming, penguins move their wings in the same way as flying birds.
Most water birds use their feet as paddles, but penguins use their feet, along with their tail to help them steer.
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