Named after an explorer
The Magellan Penguin is named after the 15th-century Portuguese explorer Fernão de Magalhães (Ferdinand Magellan). These animals feed on squid, krill and shellfish, and are also a tasty meal for sea lions and birds of prey themselves. The penguins live in large colonies along the coast of Chile, on Tierra del Fuego and the Falkland Islands. There are several million Magellan Penguins, but overfishing, climate change and oil spills are reducing their numbers fast. That is why the animals have been added to the ‘threatened’ Red List of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
Threatened with extinction
The Humboldt Penguin is named after another great explorer, 19th-century German scientist Alexander von Humboldt. This endangered penguin species lives along the coast of Peru and Chile, where the cold Humboldt Current brings large schools of anchovies and sardines. The animals breed in holes filled with guano (bird manure), but the extraction of guano has caused a large part of this natural habitat to disappear. The number of Humboldt Penguins has reduced to only 50,000.
Isla Cachagua lies 100 metres off the coast by the seaside resort of Cachagua, 75 km north of Valparaiso and 165 km from Santiago. From the capital, there are various day trips to the region. Kayak Australis organizes a day trip that includes a canoe tour around the island. You may also organize your own tour by renting a motorboat in the fishing village of Caleta de Zapallar. The penguins may also be spotted from the beach in Cachagua - but be sure to bring a pair of binoculars for a good look.