Sphenisco news flash October-November+++Sphenisco news flash October-November+++Sphenisco news flash October-November

Landau, 7th of December 2021


+++In October, Nancy Duman began organizing citizen participation in the development and design of the Archipel Humboldt Marine Protected Area. (see article "Education and outreach activities are being expanded". For this purpose, she met with fishermen from Chungungo and Pt. de Choros on October 15 and 23. The aim was to clarify the meaning and perspectives of citizen participation. On the same topic, she organised a workshop in Los Choros on 30 October, which was attended by representatives of the fishermen from Los Choros, Pt. de Choros and Chungungo as well as the citizens' initiative MODEMA. The initiative was welcomed by the participants and considered important. They will now discuss the topic of "citizen participation" in their organisations.

+++In two video conferences, Dr Alejandro Simenone (Universidad Andrés Bello, Santiago) informed the supporters (1) of the "Research for Survival" project about the planning and status of the research work. Immediately before the start of the work on the Chilean islands, Dr. Simeone gave an engaging and vivid description of the significance, objectives and his expectations. The sponsors were particularly impressed by the great commitment of the Chilean researchers. At the end of November, the researchers sent the first pictures of the work on the breeding islands.
(1) Species Protection Foundation Zoo Karlsruhe, Dr. Reinschmidt, Dr. Becker as well as support association Tierpark Hagenbeck, board members, Mr Bartelt, Mr Crasselt.

+++Alianza Humboldt organised "velatones" (wakes) in Los Choros, Punta de Choros, Chanaral de Aceituno and in the Plaza de Armas in La Serena to raise awareness of the threat posed by the Cruz Grande port project (company Companía Minera del Pacífico-CMP) before the hearing at the Antofagasta Environmental Court. The construction of the Cruz Grande harbour would have the same impacts as the Dominga project harbour: destruction of a particularly valuable ecosystem, lasting damage to the fishing grounds of artisanal fishermen and significant populations of marine mammals and seabirds through construction and operation. On 3 November, the Alianza also drew attention to the "Cruz Grande" problem in an unusual way and marched through the centre of La Serena with a "Requiem" (funeral march). The hearing in the case "expired licence of the Cruz Grande port project" took place - as scheduled - on 4 November at the Antofagasta Environmental Court. The impression was that the construction of the harbour was to be pushed through at all costs. The lawyers of the CMP company and the licensing authority were very much in agreement and took the view that the licence for the Cruz Grande port had not lapsed even though construction had not started within 5 years - as required.

+++On 11 August, the Commission for Environmental Impact Assessment (COEVA) of the Coquimbo region approved the Dominga project of the Andes Iron company. The deadline for submitting appeals against this decision was 28 October. About 30 appeals were filed, both by individuals and by various associations, including fishermen's unions, Alianza Humboldt and NGOs such as Oceana.

+++At the end of October, beginning of November, a training course for professional divers on diving safety was to take place in the coastal villages of La Higuera. Unfortunately, the workshop had to be cancelled due to the pandemic. The French experts could not enter or would have had to spend the time in quarantine instead of in training.

+++SPHENISCO is expanding its education and outreach work in the Coquimbo region. For this purpose, Karen Quezada was hired on 1 November (see article "Education and outreach activities are being expanded").

+++The petition "Humboldt penguins finally need protection!" has been running since mid-October. So far, it has not been possible to spread the petition widely in Chile. Karen Quezada is working to address this lack with newsletters, in relevant networks, with information stands at markets and in universities.

+++On 16 November, Defensa Ambiental 4th Region organised another workshop with the members of the Constituent Assembly. Deputies Ivanna Olivares, Trinidad Castillo, Daniel Bravo and Carlos Calvo spoke about and discussed "Citizen Participation and the New Constitution". The two workshops took place in the Caleta of Pt. de Choros and in the Plaza of Los Choros.

+++On 29 and 30 November, hearings were held before the 3rd Chamber of the Corte Suprema on the Dominga mining and port project. (see article „Can it be 10 percent more destruction?“).


+++ In July, the research project "Breeding success on the Ballestas Islands?" began, or more precisely, was supposed to begin. At this point, ACOREMA had procured the necessary equipment to get started, but first had to go through a bureaucratic hurdle race lasting several months. It was not until November that the first pictures were taken of the breeding sites on the Ballestas (see article „First pictures of the project "Breeding success on the Ballestas?").


+++„Create space in the wardrobe" campaign. Our member Claudia Wirth from Munich had the idea and organised the action. The project kills 2 birds with one stone, sustainable waste disposal and clothing and (possibly) financial support for the protection of the Humboldt penguins. The campaign runs until the end of January, it started at the beginning of November. "Cleaning out" for the penguins gives - we hope - all penguin friends a whole new drive: cleaning up for species conservation.

+++The petition "Humboldt penguins finally need protection!" has been running since mid-October ( So far, over 70,000 people have supported the demand, most of them from Germany and France. This is a nice success, but unfortunately not yet enough to have a strong impact in Chile. We want to win 100,000 supporters and more. "Save the Rainforest" plans to send out an English newsletter in the next few days. This gives hope for another 20,000 to 30,000 supporters. It is unclear what resonance SPHENISCO has been able to achieve in the European zoo world so far. Christina Schubert wants to clarify this in talks with multipliers and suggest measures if necessary.

+++Once again, the "Penguin Wine", a Pinot Blanc from the Ramsel Winery in Kirrweiler, travels to the research station "Neumayer Station III" in Antarctica. This year, Palatinate winegrowers once again sent a wooden crate with good wines from Rhineland-Palatinate on a long journey as part of a campaign organised by the Struktur- und Genehmigungsdirektion (SGD), Neustadt/Weinstraße. Eye-catcher - right on top - the "Penguin Wine" with the great label by Andrea Ramsel. The 3rd vintage of "Penguin Wine" is harvested. Whether wine lovers and penguin lovers can look forward to such excellent quality again as in 2019 and 2020 is not yet certain after the very wet summer. What is certain, however, is that the enjoyment pays off for species conservation and penguins. Andrea and Karl Ramsel were once again able to donate 1,000 EUR to SPHENISCO. Many thanks!

+++A big thank you also goes to Paultons Park in England. The amusement park near Hampshire regularly supports the protection of the Humboldt penguins' habitat with generous donations.


W. K.

translated by Claudia Wirth


Dr. Simeone and Dr. Reinschmidt Workshop Verfassung

Create space in your closet and help penguins? That's possible!

Landau November 7, 2021.

Sphenisco is taking part in the "Make room with heart" campaign. This is a non-profit initiative that supports social projects around the world by reselling old clothes. In the current voting, the 100 non-profit organizations with the most votes will each receive 500 euros.

Extractivist policies hurt Chile’s ecosystems (ed. Jennifer Sills)

Landau 30 September 2021.

The decision of the Commission for Environmental Impact Assessment (COEVA) of the Coquimbo region has triggered widespread protests in Chile. Of particular interest is the Open Letter from Chilean scientists published in the online edition of Science (

On 11 August, the Chilean government approved the construction and operation of Dominga (1), a high-grade iron and copper open-pit mine and port at the heart of the Humboldt Archipelago ecosystem (seven islands near northern Chile and the adjacent Chilean coast). The scientific community, National Forest Service, and Ministry of the Environment had previously rejected this project, which will cause huge and irreversible impacts on both land and sea to an ecosystem globally recognized as a biodiversity “hope spot” (2). The Humboldt Archipelago ecosystem harbors a rich and unique biota, and 60% of the total area of the reserve is classified as very fragile (3). An estimated 60 to 88% of the ecosystem’s species are endemic (3), and many are included in the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List. Given the high environmental costs of Dominga, the project should be halted.

Dominga will disrupt the Humboldt Archipelago ecosystem and coastal land. Persistent upwelling will transfer large volumes of desalination concentrate from the submarine pipeline, affecting pelagic and benthic food webs that support seabirds and marine mammals of global importance. About 25 seabird species forage around the islands, which provide nesting sites for at least 14 species, 9 of which are endemic (4). Marine mammals such as the endangered marine otter (4), resident bottlenose dolphin (5), and 11 cetacean species feed, breed, or both, in the Humboldt Archipelago ecosystem (4). Port infrastructure, risk of oil spills, noise and light contamination, and increased vessel traffic will directly threaten seabirds and cetaceans (6). Mining will also compromise habitats of endangered cacti (7) and populations of birds (8), reptiles (9), scorpions (10), and insects (11).

Extractivist policies in Chile have a long history despite a track record of disastrous consequences for the environment, communities, and human rights (12). In line with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s sixth assessment report to mitigate climate change, Chile should implement cleaner environmental and socioeconomic policies, preserving both richness and species composition of the Humboldt Archipelago ecosystem. Chile is currently at a crossroads as elected constituents draft a new constitution: Either we continue on the path of traditional extractivism mortgaging our biodiversity or we adapt to a greener future, promoting a sustainable economy that balances progress with current social imperatives for environmental justice.

Mauricio A. Urbina 1,2, Pablo C. Guerrero 3, Viviane Jerez 1, Fulgencio Lisón 1, Guillermo Luna-Jorquera 4, Camilo Matus-Olivares 5, Juan C. Ortiz 1, Guido Pavez 6,7,8, María J. Pérez-Alvarez 7,9,10, Ramiro Riquelme-Bugueño 1,2, Macarena Santos-Carvallo 6,7, Maritza Sepúlveda 6,8, Pedro F. Victoriano 1, Daniel Gomez-Uchida 1,8*

(1) Departamento de Zoología, Facultad de Ciencias Naturales y Oceanográficas, Universidad de Concepción, Concepción, Chile. (2) Instituto Milenio de Oceanografía, Universidad de Concepción, Concepción, Chile. (3) Departamento de Botánica, Facultad de Ciencias Naturales y Oceanográficas, Universidad de Concepción, Concepción, Chile. (4) Núcleo Milenio Ecología Manejo Sustentable Islas Oceánicas, Departamento de Biología Marina, Universidad Católica del Norte, Coquimbo, Chile. (5) Departamento de Ciencias Forestales y Medioambiente, Facultad de Ciencias Agropecuarias y Forestales, Universidad de La Frontera, Temuco, Chile. (6) Centro de Investigación y Gestión de Recursos Naturales, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Valparaíso, Chile. (7) Centro de Investigación Eutropia, Santiago, Chile. (8) Núcleo Milenio Salmónidos Invasores, Concepción, Chile. (9) Escuela de Medicina Veterinaria, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Mayor, Santiago, Chile. (10) Instituto de Ecología y Biodiversidad, Santiago, Chile.

*Corresponding author. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 References and Notes

  1. Mining[dot]com, “Chile’s $2.5 billion Dominga copperiron project approved by regulators” (2021);
  2. BBC News, “Humboldt Archipelago: The ‘place of hope’ of the oceans in Chile” (2018).
  3. Corporación Nacional Forestal, “Plan de manejo Reserva Nacional Pinguino de Humboldt, Part A” (2018) [in Spanish].
  4. M. Sepúlveda et al., “Determinación del estado A recently approved mining project threatens the endemic species and fragile ecosystems of northern Chile, including those on Tilgo Island. poblacional en las Reservas Marinas isla Chañaral e islas Choros y Damas, de las especies delfín nariz de botella, chungungo, pingüino de Humboldt y cetáceos” (Informe Final Proyecto FIPA 2018-43, 2021) [in Spanish].
  5. M. J. Pérez-Alvarez et al., Anim. Behav. 139, 81 (2018).
  6. R. Quispe et al., Mar. Ornithol. 48, 205 (2020).
  7. P. C. Guerrero et al., Taxon 68, 557 (2019).
  8. J. F. Masello et al., Front. Zool. 8, 16 (2011).
  9. P. Valladares et al., Gayana 75, 81 (2011) [in Spanish].
  10. J. Pizarro-Araya, A. A. Ojanguren-Affilastro, Gayana 82, 8 (2018) [in Spanish].
  11. V. Jerez, J. Pizarro-Araya, Gayana 82, 101 (2020) [in Spanish].
  12. S. Smart, Crit. Plan. 23, 59 (2017).


Sphenisco News August-September+++Sphenisco News August-September+++Sphenisco  News August-September+++

Landau, 9 October 2021


+++Decision pro Dominga.

The Environmental Impact Assessment Commission (COEVA) of the Coquimbo Region approved the Dominga project of Andes Iron on 11 August. "Defensa  ambiental" and "Alianza Humboldt" had already organized a signature campaign, as well as a demonstration in front of the building of the regional government in La Serena. In the weeks following the decision, many organizations and institutions – including state ones – protested against COEVA’s decision. A particularly prominent example is the open letter of Chilean scientists in the online edition of the Magazine “Science” in mid-September (see article, “Extractivist Policies Harms Chile's Ecosystems” - ed. Jennifer Sills).

In response to the decision, Defensa ambiental  and Alianza Humboldt announced a series of events that they have realised over the past few weeks. Here is a small selection: 4 September, Cultural Day "Color" in Caleta  Hornos; September 10, Festival Música la vida, a livestream event; 25 September, in the lecture series Route Humboldt, an episode titled, "The Changos  - Aborigines of the Humboldt Archipelago"; 25/26 September, legal advice for residents of coastal villages. In this workshop, a lawyer informed the residents about the decision of the Environment Commission in favor of Andes Iron and encouraged them to make submissions called "Observaciones". The deadline for submissions is 25 October. (see also article " No to Ecocide - #NoaDominga",  15 August 2021).

+++Greenpeace Protest against decision.

Greenpeace Chile, also a member of Alianza Humboldt, has been calling since September 27 with the slogan "#NOADOMINGA-protejamos  este  santuario" to protest directly to the Commission for Environmental Impact Assessment against its decision (of August 11) So far,56,829 Chileans have joined the protest (as of Oct. 7). Submissions to the Commission can only be made by Chilean citizens.

+++Oceana's appeal against decision.

On 29 September, the Court of Appeal in La Serena authorized the NGO Oceana’s appeal to intervene against the decision of the Environmental Impact Assessment Commission.

+++Research for survival.

SPHENISCO has signed a contract with the University of Andrés Bello, Santiago  for a six-year research project. Initially, the agreement applies to the period from southern spring 2021 to southern summer 2023. (s,a., Artikel "Research for Survival" of 4 June 2021). Research will begin in mid-October.

The preparations are truly "global". Like Karel Gott once did, the penguin researchers could sing "Once around the world and the bags full of ... GPS-Logger". The researcher Dr. Mattern, New Zealand, ordered research equipment on behalf of Sphenisco from the Italian company  TechnoSmart  Europe, in Rome. The company sent the loggers to the Chilean researcher Dr. Thiel, who was working in Kiel at the time. In mid-September, Dr. Thiel took the equipment with him on his return flight to Coquimbo in Chile. Technosmart Europe's invoice went to SPHENISCO in Landau.

+++Diving training.

Nancy Duman is currently preparing a training course "Safety in Diving", in the coastal villages of the municipality of La Higuera. In the training, French experts teach Chilean professional divers how to protect themselves from accidents, and what measures they can take in the event of an accident. The training will take place from 29 October to 7 November in the villages of Chañaral,  Choros and Chungungo for divers native to the region. It is not certain that the initiative will succeed, due to the current pandemic regulations (7 days quarantine required).

+++Video conference with Oceana.

On September 27, Nancy Duman, and Gabriele and Werner Knauf spoke in a video conference with Liesbeth van der Meer, Director of the NGO, Oceana. The NGO and SPHENISCO have been working very well together for a very long time. The representatives of the organizations did not have personal contact. Since visits to Chile are not possible in the near future, the discussion served to get to know each other and to exchange perspectives for future cooperation to protect the Humboldt Archipelago.

+++Pandora Papers

In early October, Chilean investigative online portals Ciper and LaBot reported that President Piñera was involved in offshore deals involving Dominga shares in the British Virgin Islands. This news not only triggers a wave of protests, it also leads to the first political and legal measures.   Alianza Humboldt calls on the authorities to finally end the Dominga project, to acknowledge that the approval of the Cruz Grande port has expired, as construction did not begin within 5 years, and to finally put the Humboldt Archipelago under protection.

The Pandora Papers have revealed clauses according to which the 3rd installment of the purchase price for the Dominga shares was made subject to the condition that no exclusion zone, national park or nature reserve be established in the area of the mine and the planned port. It outrages many people that decisions in this matter depended on the then President of the Republic, Sebastián Piñera, who was thus directly involved in the business.


+++Environmental education by Acorema.

Since 2010, the NGO Acorema has been organizing and developed the educational project "Queremos  vivir  – we want to live". The last 2 years took place under the conditions of the pandemic, which led, among other things, to a loss of time. The team led by Señora Milagros Ormeno is therefore extending the project phase by 2 months to be able to complete agreed-upon measures. Activities with personal contact such as training courses and workshops could, for the most part, not be carried out. Acorema compensated for this handicap with virtual offers (s.a., Article "Environmental Education Despite Pandemic", of 4 January 2021). The changed way of working led to new materials and media being created. For example, a preschool brochure entitled "Knowing and Protecting our Ocean with the Humboldt Penguin" was developed, and the website of Acorema began to be renewed in order to be able to integrate virtual educational materials. SPHENISCO is always impressed by the consistent and creative work of the "Team Milagros" and plans to continue this proven work in the coming year.

+++Research on the Ballestas Islands

The scientific investigation of the breeding success on the Ballestas Islands, southern Peru should actually have begun in August. Although all the necessary equipment was procured, the required approvals have been delayed. For example, researchers need a license to run a drone. To do this, they had to complete a course and pass a final exam. After 14 days, the Ministry of Transport and Communications usually issues the license. In reality however, the researchers waited 45 days.  After the document finally arrived, Acorema applied for a research permit at the "National Protected Area for Islands, Islets and  Puntas  Guaneras". For more than 30 days now, the researchers have been waiting for an answer. They will follow up and start researching as soon as possible. 

 E U R O P E

+++Species protection euro Zoo Rostock. 

At the beginning of this year, Rostock Zoo also introduced a Species Protection Euro and, among other projects, also supports the protection of the Humboldt Penguin. The funds will enable SPHENISCO to expand its education and public relations in the Coquimbo region of northern Chile. This region is known to be of central importance for the survival of this penguin species, as it is home to the habitat and breeding grounds of around 80% of the remaining global population of the Humboldt Penguin. The marine region has been at great risk for many years due to new large-scale projects. For many years, our colleague Nancy Duman and her colleagues have been continuously designing and organizing public meetings, campaigns (e.g., creating small gardens, art and music events), seminars, workshops and conferences, maintaining contacts with those responsible, and writing articles for the media. Through the long-term and intensive work, a large network like Alianza Humboldt was created. Even in the current situation – with elections on November 21 in Chile, a broad protest movement against the decision of the Environmental Commission, and the Pandora Papers revealing manipulations of the president's family - the members of Alianza are very active and are increasingly being heard by the media.

+++Species Protection Day Karlsruhe Zoo.                           

On 21 September, the now-traditional Species Protection Day, a big event, took place at Karlsruhe Zoo, where around 30 institutions presented themselves via information booths. SPHENISCO, represented by the 2nd Chairwoman Christina Schubert, and the former zoo volunteer and penguin friend Chantal Trauth, were of course, also there again. With the “3G” rule (meaning either recovered, vaccinated, or tested) and slightly longer distances between information booths, Karlsruhe Zoo has again organized a great event. SPHENICSO’s booth was placed at the enclosures of the Humboldt and Magellan penguins, and with the best zoo weather and very good visitor numbers, the representatives of SPHENISCO were pleased about the public’s lively interest. In some cases, more intensive discussions could be held about the threat to the Humboldt penguins and the work of the association. In some cases, both small and large zoo guests were amazed by exhibits such a penguin egg, a prepared penguin skull and penguin feathers, or enjoyed sales items such as DVDs, postcards or penguin wine (a white burgundy). SPHENISCO was also pleased about the many (smaller) donations. Eye-catchers and "bestsellers" were once again the mini penguins lovingly crocheted by Chantal Trauth. (Author Christina Schubert)

 +++Donation from Parc Merveilleux.                                                                         

SPHENISCO now has a number of "loyal" supporters. This includes the Parc Merveilleux. The animal and leisure park, at the municipality of Bettembourg in Luxembourg, has once again supported the work of SPHENISCO with a generous donation.                           


translated by Erich Greiner




Info There is no translation available for this article. Article in German.
No hay traducción disponible para este artículo. Artículo en alemán.

Peru - Umweltbildung und Pandemie

Februar 2021.

Foto- und Videothek zum Artikel „Umweltbildung trotz Pandemie – ACOREMA geht neue Wege“ vom 4. Januar 2021.

Videos sind bei vimeo zu sehen:


Umweltbildung Umweltbildung Umweltbildung


Umweltbildung Umweltbildung Umweltbildung

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