For the African penguin, the writing may be on the wall. Only 13 500 breeding pairs left and hardly any sardines for the penguins to feed on, they are staring down the abyss of extinction.
So many days so many causes,
so many things we have to be aware off
BEWARE do not to get drowned in awareness.
Remove action from CONSERVATION and you are literally left with nonsense “onsevr”.
We tweet, retweet, like, comment, all good for awareness. But awareness must lead to action. Help us to spread awareness today, but also take action and make a contribution, no matter how small. Support our efforts to engage with both the government and the fishing industry to preserve biodiversity and develop strategies that can be beneficial for both the penguins and the fishing industry.
So what if we lose the African penguin from the seascape?
What do we lose if the African penguin disappear from our wild seascape? Do we lose an iconic, cute beach waddling, black & white flightless bird that provides great entertain for thousands of visitors spotting them at the land-based colonies on our coast? Sure, we do, along with some vital tourist dollars, but we can always replace this with museums & statues to commemorate and track their demise.
But far more importantly, we cannot replace their vital services to the eco-system. They are ocean fertilisers. They play an important role in the functioning of marine ecosystems. Penguins bring large amounts of nutrients from the ocean to their colonies. The areas around colonies are a great place for fish nurseries. Not only do penguins and seabirds have a beneficial bottom-up impact but they also exert valuable top-down control. For example, they may select prey that is small and in poor body condition and by removing these substandard individuals they ensure the long-term survival of prey populations.
The perfect storm
We have created a perfect storm, a collapsed penguin population because of a range of historic human impacts, a near to nothing sardine biomass because of overfishing. The 2018/2019 Sardine stock assessment are at the lowest since the 1980’s with an almost complete absence of sardines from the West Coast.
A vicious circle – low penguin numbers means less nutrients available to fish nurseries around colonies, less nutrients leads to lower fish abundance then add overfishing and BOOM!
Not just the penguins that will suffer
Bottomline – the large decreases in seabird populations, as have been observed for African Penguins in South Africa have bad consequences for ecosystem functioning.
This is now impacting all of us, not just the penguins. The lack of sardines will not only affect marine species it now cuts close to our own human bones. No more sardines to catch leads to more unemployment.
Can we weather this storm? Conservation and the fishing industry can work together towards a mutually beneficial strategy. Responsible fisheries should promote protection of living aquatic resources and their environments and coastal areas. An adaptive time (during peak breeding season) and area closure (around breeding colonies) management system can help to turn the situation around. Is there the will to make this change?
WE DO NOT HAVE A CHOICE.