Humboldt Current | WWF

Humboldt Current

About the Area

The Humboldt Current helps create one of the world's most productive marine ecosystems. A current of cold Antarctic water known as the Humboldt (or Peru) Current flows up the coast of Chile and Peru to move surface water offshore, and cause upwelling of deeper, nutrient rich waters.
These conditions help sustain extraordinary numbers of marine birds, mammals, and fish.

Local Species
Three species of fish - anchoveta (Engraulis ringens), sardine (Sardinops sagax), and jurel (Trachurus symmetricus) - occur in extreme abundance and are the basis for much of the food chain.

Other species include the Chilean dolphin (Cephalorynchus eutropia), Burmeister's porpoise (Phocoena spinipinnis), Marine otter (Lutra felina), Southern sea lion (Otaria flavescens), and South American fur seal (Arctocephalus australis).

Birds include Elliot's storm-petrel (Oceanites gracilis), Humboldt penguin (Sphniscus humboldti), Guanay cormorant (Phalacrocorax bouganvilli), Peruvian tern (Sterna lorata), and Inca tern (Larosterna inca).

Periodic variation in productivity due to shifting wind patterns related to the El Niño phenomenon cause populations to collapse, making this ecosystem very vulnerable to conventional intensive fishery practices.

Upland activities such as mining, urbanisation, and the release of untreated wastes have further impacted these marine waters.



Habitat type:
Temperate Upwelling

Geographic Location:
Eastern Pacific Ocean along the coast of South America

Conservation Status:

Quiz Time!

Why does the Humboldt Current become ineffective once every few years?

The Humboldt Current is slow, shallow, and cold. When the climatic phenomenon El Nino comes to the area every few years, the ocean grows warmer and the surface layer of water becomes thicker. It is then difficult for the Humboldt Current to maintain its typical upwellings, and the water becomes less nutrient-rich.

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