A photo provided by the Mundo Marino Foundation that shows one of its workers feeding a group of penguins. EFE/ Mundo Marino Foundation

15 Penguins returned to ocean after rehab in Argentina

Buenos Aires, Aug 11 (EFE).- Fifteen penguins that were suffering from malnutrition, oil exposure and plastic ingestion when they were rescued in 2022 and earlier this year have been returned to the ocean, the Mundo Marino Foundation said in a statement Friday.

A photo provided by the Mundo Marino Foundation that shows one of its workers reintroducing a group of penguins to the ocean. EFE/Mundo Marino Foundation

Those flightless marine birds were rescued at different coastal locations of Buenos Aires province and returned to the sea by specialized personnel at a beach in the town of San Clemente del Tuyu.

Upon being rescued, all of the penguins were suffering from varying degrees of malnutrition, dehydration and hypothermia, as well as a high level of parasitism.

One Magellanic penguin had oil stains on its body, while another expelled pieces of plastic during its rehabilitation.

“Oil causes the clumping of (penguins’) feathers and disrupts the air layer that insulates their skin from the external environment. Besides affecting their buoyancy, they lose their capacity to regulate their body temperature,” Sergio Rodriguez Heredia, a biologist and the head of the Mundo Marino Foundation’s Rescue Center, explained.

Malnutrition, meanwhile, causes penguins to become dehydrated because they absorb water through the fish they consume.

Juan Pablo Loureiro, a veterinarian and the foundation’s technical director, said therefore that thermal therapies and other treatments involving the use of hydrating salts are key to these animals’ rehabilitation.

“Once they’re stabilized, we take blood samples and start offering them liquid fish formula until finally giving them whole fish. Fortunately, all of the (birds) responded well to the treatments” and showed they were ready to be returned to their natural habitat, he added.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists the status of the Magellanic penguin, which inhabits coastal areas of southern South America, as that of “least concern.”

This species breeds in Argentine and Chilean Patagonia between September and March and then migrates as far north as the waters offshore from Peru and Brazil for the Southern Hemisphere winter in search of anchovies and other fish. EFE