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BROCHURE RACK

Argentina creates a new marine protected area to protect Rockhopper penguins

06/04/2010 00:05:05
birds/2010 jan/rockhopper_wcs

The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) announced an agreement to create a new marine protected area in Argentina that will safeguard one of the country’s most unique seascapes for both people and wildlife

Rockhopper penguin boost

April 2010. The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has announced an agreement to create a new marine protected area in Argentina that will safeguard one of the country's most unique seascapes for both people and wildlife-including the only colony of Southern Rockhopper penguins on continental Argentina's 3,000-mile coast.

Penguin Island Marine Park
Located to the south of Puerto Deseado in the province of Santa Cruz, Parque Marino Isla Pingüino - which translates to "Penguin Island Marine Park" - will safeguard more than 650 square miles (1,700 square kilometres) of coastal waters strung along almost 60 miles (100 kilometres) of shoreline.

Punk Rockhoppers
Among the species that will benefit from the park's creation are Southern Rockhopper penguins. Rockhoppers are sometimes described as the "punk-rockers" of penguins due to the "spiked" plumes on their crown. They also have bright yellow "eyebrows," red eyes, and pink feet. Unlike other penguins which slide on their bellies or walk and awkwardly climb to negotiate obstacles, Rockhopper get around on land by jumping, both legs at once.

The park's creation represents a joint effort by the Government of Santa Cruz and Argentina's National Parks Service and is the result of years of study and conservation work by WCS. The new designation will balance wildlife needs with those of the region's human population by educating local communities about conservation issues and promoting sustainable development activities compatible with conservation goals.

Rockhopper populations down by 1/3
The global population of Southern Rockhopper has fallen sharply by about one-third in the last thirty years to roughly one million pairs. Currently, the species is classified as "vulnerable" by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Southern right whales abound off southern
Argentina. Photo credit Wildlife Extra

Offshore oil drilling and transport, and by entanglement in nets
While Argentina's coastline is largely undeveloped, its wildlife is threatened by pollution caused by offshore oil drilling and transport, and by entanglement in nets used by commercial fishing fleets. Wildlife Conservation Society has been working in the region since the 1960s and has been involved in the conservation of southern right whales, Magellanic and Rockhopper penguins, southern elephant seals and many other unique wildlife species. As part of that effort, WCS is helping to coordinate management of coastal protected areas around the southern cone of South America in Argentina and Chile.

The treaty authorizing the park was signed by President Dr. Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, of Argentina, Governor Daniel Peralta of the Province of Santa Cruz and by Dr. Patricia Gandini for Argentina's National Park Service, and is awaiting ratification by the Santa Cruz provincial legislature. After this occurs, a draft of the law establishing the park will be sent to the Argentine Congress for final approval.

The designation of this new protected area was made possible by the generous support of the Liz Claiborne Art Ortenberg Foundation and the Mitsubishi Corporation Foundation for the Americas.

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