Monday, July 16, 2007

10 Penguin Species Could Gain Endangered Species Protection

The U.S. government has announced it is advancing the emperor penguin and nine other penguin species toward protection under the federal Endangered Species Act. The action comes in response to a formal administrative petition filed by the Center for Biological Diversity in November 2006 seeking protection for the species, as well as a June 2007 Notice of Intent to Sue the agency for failing to respond to the petition. The primary threats to penguins are global warming and industrial fisheries.

Abnormally warm ocean temperatures and diminished sea ice have wreaked havoc on penguin food availability in recent decades. Less food has led to population declines in species ranging from the southern rockhopper and Humboldt penguins of the islands off South America, and the African penguin in southern Africa, to the emperor penguin in Antarctica. The ocean conditions causing these declines have been linked by scientists to global warming and are projected to intensify in the coming decades.

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