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Penguins of Brazil

ROCKHOPPER, MACARONI and MAGELLANIC PENGUINS can be found in the waters of Brazil from the southern border as far north as Recife

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Brazil has three species of penguins visiting its coastline each year between the months of March and September. These penguins can be found from Brazil's southern border with Uruguay, as far north as Recife. However there are no breeding sites in Brazil and the penguins rarely come ashore unless they are ill or become oiled.

These penguins leave the coast of Brazil in summer to take advantage of the long hours of daylight further south nearer to the south pole. Their breeding sites are located in Argentina, Chile and the Falkland Islands (see maps below). They return to Brazil each year at the end of their breeding season to get away from the short days of winter in the south.

Nearer to the south pole, the days are very long in summer and very short in winter. The long hours of daylight cause rapid growth of tiny marine plants (algae) which in turn are food for krill and other small marine creatures. These provide enormous amounts of food for whales, dolphins and fish. The huge shoals of fish provide abundant food for penguins and other seabirds to raise their chicks. Once summer is over and the days get shorter, this abundance of food slows down, and the penguins move further north to Brazil in search of better feeding grounds during the winter months.

The following species of penguins can be found along the coast of Brazil each winter:




Rockhopper Penguin

SOUTHERN ROCKHOPPER PENGUINS are found at 15 breeding sites around Argentina and Chile, with a further 36 breeding sites in the Falkland Islands. Together they make up a total world population of around 650,000 breeding pairs. These breeding sites are all on offshore islands, with Isla Pinguino near Puerto Deseado (number 9 on the map) being the only site where tourists can see Rockhopper penguins in Chile or Argentina. Populations appear to be stable in Chile, and increasing in Argentina, due to rapid expansion of the Staten Island colony (number 4 on the map). The Falklands population has crashed by nearly 90% from 2,500,000 pairs to around 280,000 pairs, due to poor management of commercial fisheries (See Falklands Penguins Starve to Death). Rockhopper penguins abandoning the Falklands probably helps to explain the rapid increase on Staten Island.


Rockhopper Penguin breeding sites in South America.


Macaroni Penguin

MACARONI PENGUINS are found at 9 breeding sites around Argentina and Chile, all on remote offshore islands. Together they make up a total of about 12,000 breeding pairs, out of a world population of around 9 million breeding pairs. None of the colonies in Chile or Argentina are within easy reach of the continental mainland, making them unsuitable for tourism. Other breeding sites for Macaroni penguins are South Georgia, South Sandwich, South Orkneys, South Shetlands, Bouvet, Prince Edward, Marion, Crozet, Kerguelen, Heard, the Falkland Islands, and the Antarctic Peninsula.


Macaroni Penguin breeding sites in South America.


Magellanic Penguin

MAGELLANIC PENGUINS are found around the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of Chile, Argentina and the Falkland Islands, reaching as far north as Peninsula Valdez in Argentina, and Puerto Montt in Chile. Together they comprise a world population of around 1,800,000 breeding pairs. Populations in Chile and Argentina are increasing overall, despite declines in some of the colonies in northern Argentina related to oil pollution and tourism. The Falklands population has suffered a 90% decline over the last 20 years due to the Falklands' refusal to protect penguins from commercial fishing (See Falklands Penguins Starve to Death). Recommended sites to view Magellanic penguins in Argentina are Peninsula Valdez, Punta Tombo, Cabo Virgenes, Monte Leon and Puerto Deseado.


Global breeding range of Magellanic Penguins








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Mike Bingham, © 2022