We often picture penguins ambling through a landscape of endless snow and swimming in frigid iceberg-filled oceans. While several penguin species live in a cold environment, others live miles away from snow among cactus in South American deserts and in the warmth of the tropics. There are actually 18 different penguin species concentrated in the Southern Hemisphere, 60% of which are listed as threatened. Most penguin populations are at risk from changes in our oceans primarily due to pollution, fisheries mismanagement, and the effects of climate change.
Global Penguin Society (GPS) is promoting penguin conservation and advocating for solutions to sustainable healthy activities in the ocean. They work with penguin researchers and conservationists worldwide, implementing a united conservation front for these charismatic flightless birds. GPS also promoted the creation of the first ever IUCN Penguin Specialist Group, dedicated to the conservation of all 18 species.
Worldwide, based in Argentina
“When I see a penguin, I feel like they really reflect how wonderful and how fantastic this planet is...and also how fragile it is.”
—Dr. Pablo Borboroglu
A Unique Conservation Approach
GPS seeks to improve scientific knowledge on critical aspects of the biology and ecology of penguin species in order to guide conservation action. They monitor penguin populations to collect essential data. They also work to assess large marine conservation problems like fisheries mismanagement, oil drilling operations, pollution, and changing conditions in the oceans.
Fostering a “conservation culture” is GPS’ educational goal. By raising awareness about penguins, they hope to both involve and empower local communities, many of which have been traditionally absent from conservation action. They work through a variety of mediums, from producing books and other educational materials to taking children on school trips to see penguin nesting areas.
GPS works closely with government and community officials to create effective conservation policies to benefit not only penguins, but their entire local ecosystems as well. They are particularly invested in improving existing, and creating new designated marine and terrestrial protected areas, such as the newly designated Punta Tombo reserve in Argentina which protects the largest colony of Magellanic penguins in the world—roughly half a million penguins.
million acres of marine and coastal area protected.
kids who visited penguin colonies through the GPS educational program
Photo credit: J. Weller
Dr. Pablo Borboroglu
Growing up, Pablo’s grandmother told him stories of her childhood visits to see the penguins in Patagonia. As an adult, after receiving his Ph.D. in biology, Pablo dedicated his life to the protection of the world’s penguins. He has gone on to win the prestigious Whitley Award in 2010 and is a co-founder, and president, of the Global Penguin Society.
Pablo’s ability to unite the interests of numerous countries together with the interests of penguins and marine conservation, is especially commendable. He has lobbied successfully for several protected areas, including helping establish the “Blue Patagonia” UNESCO biosphere reserve—which protects 40% of the global population of Magellanic penguins.
How You Can Help
$80 allows one child to visit a penguin colony helping them to value penguins and understand their needs.
$1000 will help to census a penguin colony to determine their population size and trend.
$600 allows GPS to track feeding trips of a penguin during a complete breeding season and which helps justify the designation of marine protected areas.
When you designate your donation to a specific species, 100% of your donation will go directly to the field to support this species.
There’s no better way to celebrate Penguin Awareness Day than by learning how to do penguin conservation fieldwork from someone who is literally working hands-on to save these iconic species.