African Penguin Awareness Day is to make the public aware of the threat of their extinction, as well as let people know there are things they can do to help. The population of African Penguins has declined by 70% in the last 10 years.
A major reason as to why they’re facing extinction is because of the several oil spills in the last 20+ years. The oil pollutes the water, and since the African Penguins’ main food source comes from the water, they are either starved or severely harmed by the oil. Another factor contributing to their extinction is overfishing. Fishermen are overfishing their habitat, creating a food shortage.
The penguins also face a serious stressor: people. People stress the animals out when they come into their nesting and breeding areas, this is so detrimental it even keeps them from continuing to breed. People also crush eggs and nests when walking through their habitat. Though the African Penguin has natural threats, there are also many man-made threats. Tourists have been known to be severe stressors when they encroach in their territory. This occurs especially when they’re nesting and breeding. They are also running out of nesting space due to this urban development, people are slowly encroaching on their territory and building on it.
There are ways to help African Penguins; you can help by purchasing a print or mug created by one of our very own penguins. Also you can help by participating in a penguin encounter, this fun encounter not only allows you to hang out with the penguins, but it helps fund the research and protection of African Penguins.
At Mystic Aquarium we have Over 35 African Penguins. African Penguins originated in South Africa, with breeding grounds in Namibia and the South African coast. They’re mainly found in one part of the world; therefore researchers are able to frequently document and study their population. The only part in the world that has African penguins is the South African coast. Their natural oceanic predators are sharks, cape fur seals, and orcas. Their natural land predators are genets, leopards, and kelp gulls.
In conservation efforts, small fiberglass igloos are being created and placed in their known nesting areas in order to protect them from weather and predators. The cape gulls easily find their unprotected nests and eat the eggs, the artificial nests help with protection of their eggs. These igloos have already proven to be effective.