Penguins have always been an important part of Dr. Pablo Borboroglu’s life. They form some of his earliest memories; as a toddler, Pablo’s grandmother told him stories about friendly penguins in Patagonia. As an adult, those stories resurfaced, and Pablo decided to go to university to help the quirky birds from the tales. He now lives and works in Patagonia, fulfilling his childhood dreams. Penguins even led him to meet his wife, through research in the field.
Once in the field, it was all too easy to see what havoc the world’s changing oceans were wreaking on penguins. Of the eighteen penguin species, 60% are classified as endangered or vulnerable to extinction, leading Pablo to co-found the Global Penguin Society (GPS) to try and save these charismatic creatures. GPS is the first international organization dedicated to penguins, uniting the needs of countries on the southern oceans where penguins live.
Even before founding GPS, Pablo worked hard to protect the Punta Tombo area in Argentina, introducing the very first management plan of its kind in 2003-2005, creating the world’s first protected area for a Magellanic Penguin colony. In 2010, he was awarded the prestigious Whitley award for his work on penguin conservation, and in 2015, Pablo and the GPS saw their had work rewarded with the establishment of an official Marine Protected Area that covered a large section of Patagonian coastline and waters, as well as becoming a designated UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
With GPS, Pablo has made significant insight into penguin biology and behavior, working with other experts to publish a substantial book. He has also worked successfully with the community, many of whom have never seen a penguin before, despite living on the fringes of marine areas. He has also organized book drives, which have helped an estimated 5,100 children so far.
Pablo’s ability to work with different governments to unite the interests of numerous countries together with penguins is also of special note. He has lobbied successfully for several protected areas, as well as brought the conservation issues facing penguins to light. His uniquely global outlook has also brought together researchers from all over the world to contribute to the growing field of penguin contribution, and to study the effects of a changing marine environment to this sentinel species.
Pablo will be a speaker at WCN’s Spring Expo; click here for more details.
Text by Elizabeth Rogers