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Montevideo, April 23rd 2024 - 06:58 UTC



Avian flu has caused the death of some 3,000 Humboldt penguins in Chilean coasts

Monday, October 23rd 2023 - 05:47 UTC
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The Humboldt penguin, a common species along most of Chile's northern coastline The Humboldt penguin, a common species along most of Chile's northern coastline

Some 3,000 Humboldt penguins have died as a consequence of the avian influenza so far in 2023, according to official reports from the Chilean Fisheries National Service, Sernapesca. The data covers the period from February to October 6th and includes the flu death of 21.819 animals, of which 2,917 Humboldt penguins.

The Sernapesca registry shows that the majority of these sea birds have been found stranded along the Chilean northern coast mainly the Regions of Arica and Parinacota with 1,907 dead Humboldt, followed by Coquimbo, 801, Atacama, 528 and Antofagasta 397.

“I believe that despite the high numbers of mortality among sea lions, they have the potential to recover with time. But yes deaths among other species are of great concern such as the Humboldt penguin. The fact is that we had a condition of vulnerability, referred to conservation previous to the avian flu outbreak, thus the loss of penguins has a major impact. This impact means we are closer to a red, emergency light,” explained Carlos Guerra Correa, who is head of the department of Rescue and Recovery of Wild Life fauna from the Antofagasta University.

According to Chilean experts to this kind of risk, must be added the phenomenon of El Niño, which causes an increase of ocean water temperature and a fall in the abundance of nutrients, which alters the food chain of the different marine species.

In the latest classification of species from the Chilean Environment Ministry, the Humboldt penguin has now been included in the category of vulnerable.

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