The Humboldt penguin is one of the most northern-dwelling penguin species as it is found natively breeding on the coastlines of Peru and Chile. The Humboldt penguin is named after the cold water current that it spends most of it's time swimming in, which is itself named after the explorer, Alexander von Humboldt.
Humboldt penguins are medium-sized penguins that can grow to heights of 70 cm or more. Also the Humboldt penguin is undoubtedly very similar in appearance a number of other penguin species, the Humboldt penguin can be easily identified by the pink, fleshy base at the end of their bills.
All penguins are fantastic swimmers and the Humboldt penguin is no exception. Humboldt penguins use their powerful flippers and streamlined bodies, aided by their webbed feet to soar through the water. Humboldt penguin populations have been severely affected in their native regions due to increasing commercial fishing which leaves less food for the penguins to eat.
The Humboldt penguin is a carnivorous animal, that like all other penguin species, survives on a diet that is only comprised of marine animals. Krill and small crustaceans make up the bulk of the Humboldt penguin's diet along with larger organisms including squid and various species of fish. Humboldt penguins can be at sea for days at a time whilst hunting and catch their food by diving deep into the water for minutes at a time.
The Humboldt penguin has few predators on land, the main ones being large snakes and sea-birds that hunt their eggs . Large leopard seals hunt the Humboldt penguin in the water along with large sharks and killer whales. Humboldt penguin populations have also been seriously affected by human hunting, and are easily affected by changes in the water from oil spills and chemical pollutants.
Humboldt penguins nest on beaches and rocky islands along the South American coast, where their range in Chile overlaps that of the closely related magellanic penguin (these sites are known as rookeries). The female Humboldt penguin lays two eggs which are incubated for just over a month and usually fledge (leave the nest) when they are between 2 and 3 months old.
Today, the Humboldt penguin populations throughout the Pacific Ocean have been drastically declining over the past few years, with human interference (mainly habitat loss and over-fishing) being the main cause.