Humboldt penguins and dolphins in Chile at risk

17.02.2016 09:50
Kategorie: News

Marine habitat threatened by proposed industrial ports

In northern Chile at La Higuera, near the island of Chañaral, there is a marine sanctuary where about 80 percent of the world's wild population of Humboldt penguins live. Oblivious to the fact that they are categorised as „vulnerable“ in the IUCN's Red List of Threatened Species, these penguins spend their days diving into the waters of the cold Humboldt Current off the Pacific coast in search of their daily meal of anchovies.

This is the Reserva Nacional de Humboldt Pingüino, which also serves as home to a resident group of some 70 bottlenose dolphins. In addition, eight whale and nine dolphin species visit the area regularly, making it an important hotspot for biodiversity in the world.

Gallery 1 here

Amidst this idyllic setting, two companies plan to construct industrial ports along this stretch of coastline. The construction, operations and subsequent increase in shipping and marine pollution are likely to destroy the fragile marine ecosystem of this area. One of the companies is the Cruz Grande, which intends to build its first port there. Its application has already been approved, despite the fact that environmentalists have expressed serious concerns for the fisheries and marine areas. Fishermen from Caleta Hornos and a local citizen's initiative MODEMA are currently suing to overturn the approval.

In fact, the organisation Sphenisco, which focuses on the protection of the Humboldt penguins, is currently in Chile, working with the Society for Dolphin Conservation (Gesellschaft zur Rettung der Delphine; or GRD) and other organisations to oppose the construction.

The second company, the Andes Iron mining company, also intends to build an industrial port as part of their Dominga project. Approval has not been given, but is at a decisive stage now. It is feared that once again, the environmental concerns for this sensitive area might once again be ignored.

Both Sphenisco and GRD are urgently calling for supporters to sign a petition to protest against the construction and operation of these ports in this important marine reserve (

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