Global environmental challenges
Good news for South American penguins
Half a million Magellanic penguins are among the critters to get protection in a new coastal marine park just established by Argentina.
“It is the first protected area in Argentina specifically designed to safeguard not only onshore breeding colonies but also areas of ocean where wildlife feed at sea,” the Bronx-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) said on Tuesday.
“Researchers found that the area was in need of protection from increasing pressures by commercial fishing and the oil industry,” said WCS, which helped set up the park. Named the Golfo San Jorge marine park, it became official earlier this month.
Only a fraction of the planet’s coastlines and marine areas are protected, so any move in this area is bound to be welcomed by conservationists.
According to conservation group WWF for example, only 0.6 percent of the world’s oceans have been designated as protected – compared to almost 13 percent of the planet’s land area.
The new reserve is in Golfo San Jorge in Chubut Province, some 1,056 miles (1,700 kilometers) south of Buenos Aires. WCS said it covers approximately 250 square miles (647 square kilometers) of coastal waters and nearby islands strung along almost 100 miles (160 kilometers) of shoreline.
“The region serves as a nesting and feeding ground for some quarter million pairs of Magellanic penguin, estimated to represent 25 percent of the entire population in Patagonia. Its 50 small islands also support two nesting colonies of southern giant petrels that represent over 80 percent of its population on the entire Patagonian coast,” WCS said.
(Photo credit: Graham Harris/Wildlife Conservation Society)