The feathery friends, renowned for their psychic abilities, have
prompted great excitement and hope to add another jewel to their crown
by correctly guessing the name of the highly anticipated Royal baby.
THE forthcoming Royal baby’s arrival has prompted a prediction of what they will be named.... by a bunch of penguins.
time to get the blue bunting out - penguins at The National SEA LIFE
Centre Birmingham have waddled their way to a right Royal prediction.
feathery friends, renowned for their psychic abilities, have prompted
great excitement and hope to add another jewel to their crown by
correctly guessing the name of the highly anticipated Royal baby.
the nation gears up for the new arrival, members of the Gentoo colony
will sit back and relax in their icy home, as they await the birth of
James Robson, curator at The National SEA LIFE
Centre Birmingham, explains: “Our penguins are really enthusiastic and
enjoy playing new games, especially those that put their predicting
powers to the test. “We gave the penguins a choice of four rocks,
each representing potential baby names for the newest addition to the
Royal family. The Gentoos were quick to waddle towards the stone crowned
Prince James - they even hopped on just in case there was any doubt.”
He added: “James is a perfect name for Baby Cambridge; the penguins couldn’t have picked better, even if I do say so myself!”
Prince George’s sibling expected in April, the team at The National SEA
LIFE Centre Birmingham is hoping the Royals will soon plan a fun-filled
family day out and give their little ones an insight into an amazing
The aquarium is home to over 2,000 creatures,
such as sharks, as well as a rescued Giant Green Sea Turtle, otters,
jellyfish, piranha, octopus and rays.
For further information or
to pre-book tickets online before your visit please go to
www.SEALIFE.co.uk/birmingham/. Reduced prices are available for tickets
booked in advance.
Seals and king penguins on the beach at Macquarie Island (ABC News: Dave Hudspeth)
After decades of being overrun with feral rabbits,
World Heritage-listed Macquarie Island is on its way to returning to the
wildlife haven it once was. At Sandy Bay on the east coast,
royal penguin colonies are coming down from the steep hillsides, with
groups of breeding pairs waddling down a well-worn track to the ocean. It is a precarious route. Along the way hungry petrel seabirds hope to pick off a weak penguin for dinner.
Huts used by hunters during the Macquarie Island rabbit eradication program were removed by helicopter. (ABC News: Fiona Breen)
It is the penguins' annual trek. "They're
heading off to seas to the north-east, near New Zealand, for winter
Macquarie Island ranger Chris Howard said.
These penguins have had a successful breeding season, living off shrimp and fish in nearby waters.
But as temperatures recently dropped, so too did their food supplies. So they are headed to relatively warmer waters. "They'll fatten up in warmer seas over winter and return in about October to start breeding again," Mr Howard said.
a week ago there were thousands of royal penguins shuffling in their
circles, slowly moving round and round to keep warm. Now the colonies
are nearly empty. However, there are plenty of king penguins left. "They do leave, but it depends on when they breed, so there is always some king penguins on the island," Mr Howard said.
to Macquarie Island's main base, at the northern end of the island,
there are small numbers of gentoo and rockhopper penguins as well. Penguins and seabirds shelter themselves in the island's growing vegetation.
Successful rabbit eradication gives Macquarie a fresh start
Seabird scientist Rachael Aldermann spent most of this trip down the south-west end of the island.
been down on these slopes with some of our field team assessing how the
vegetation is recovering since the successful pest eradication, which
has been a real threatening process for seabirds on the island," Ms
Macquarie Island Ranger, Chris Howard (ABC News: Dave Hudspeth)
Rabbits came to Macquarie Island with sealers in the early 1800s as a source of food. By the 1980s their numbers had exploded. This
prompted a massive island rescue mission that included releasing the
callici virus into the rabbit population, large-scale bait drops, and
teams of hunters and sniffer dogs.
Last year, the eradication program was declared a success. And
now that the Macquarie Island pest eradication team's mission is
complete, they have left. And there is little evidence they were ever
there — just the way they want it. "Within a couple of years the
footprints [of us being there] will fade and they will be photos on a
hard drive," eradication team manager Peter Preston said. They will, however, be leaving an island in a state of recovery.
"I think it's incredible. I came down here in 2010 and I
could see rabbits on the hillside and a lot of the damage and now we
are still seeing rapid change, with increasing tussock coverage on the
hillside, little fungi popping up all over the place, insects, and it's
going to just keep going," island ranger Angela Turbett said.
is now clean-up time on the island and the extra huts used by hunters
and dogs during the eradication program are being removed. Mr Preston said the huts made a great short-term home. "They were great places, in bad weather they were really a very friendly little home to come home to," he said. "They
had everything you needed — two bunks, a gas oven, gas heater, plenty
of supplies, and a cold porch where you could put your wet gear outside.
They made the life of hunters considerably easier."
Parks and Wildlife rangers have been given special permission to keep
one of the huts on the island's wild west coast, the last of the
shelters used by hunters. "The plan is that researchers into the
future, coming through here, will be able to use the hut as a safe
refuge whilst they work through here," Mr Howard said. "Typically we're looking at southern petrels, gentoos, a bit of marine resurveying, and the southern elephant seal senses."
Reporting from Macquarie Island
The ABC has followed Macquarie
Island's journey from ecological disaster to recovery since 2011,
recording this island's transformation along the way. For
cameraman Dave Hudspeth and myself it's our second subantarctic
adventure, and it's taken some grit and determination to work in such
We've had five days on land crisscrossing the mountainous landscape in snow, rain hail and even some sunshine. Every
hill climbed has been worth it. We've been mingling with king and royal
penguins, sharing beaches with elephant seals and hungry seabirds and
experiencing amazing auroras. We've met a passionate group of
scientists, rangers, and tradespeople excited about this island's
vegetation recovery now the rabbits rats and mice are gone. They're
a tough and fit group, appointing themselves as protectors of this
World Heritage-listed land in the middle of the Southern Ocean. The
journey is coming to an end, we're on the Aurora Australis but we've
left 13 hardy expeditioners on the island as caretakers for the winter. It'll be six months before they see anyone else again.
Rob Tipa/Fairfax NZ - Cape Saunders sheep and beef farmer David McKay brings a mob
of sheep into the yards on a calm, sunny autumn day on Otago Peninsula.
On the wild side of the Otago Peninsula, hardy
macrocarpas grow parallel to the ground, twisted and tortured into
submission by relentless gales howling in off the Southern Ocean.
its sheer cliffs and exposure to Roaring Forties storms, Cape Saunders
is no place for the faint-hearted. Here locals learn quickly to brace
themselves against the wind or suffer the same fate as the trees.
it is the wild weather, big ocean swells and isolation of the
peninsula's remote cliff-bound beaches that offer safe refuge for rare
and endangered yellow-eyed penguins, little blue penguins, breeding
colonies of New Zealand fur seals and sea lions returning to mainland
New Zealand from the sub-Antarctic islands.
A yellow-eyed penguin.
David and Wilma McKay, who run romney ewes and hardy hereford and
angus cattle on rolling to steep faces between Mt Charles and Cape
Saunders, are as passionate about conservation of the wildlife on their
farm as they are about looking after their livestock.
family have farmed on the peninsula for five generations and on this
farm - an amalgamation of settlement blocks for returned servicemen -
for three generations. His father Rod went to Cape Saunders School, now
long gone, and both were born and raised here.
The McKay farm
offers ideal yellow-eyed and little blue penguin nesting habitat in
pockets of remnant native bush and farmland behind one of few
privately-owned beaches on the peninsula free of dogs and people. Sea
lions haul out on the same beach and there is a breeding colony of fur
Yellow-eyed penguins are notoriously territorial
ground-nesting penguins that require nest sites with good shelter, shade
and enough privacy to raise chicks out of sight of their neighbours.
McKays manage their farm carefully to protect wildlife from disruption
by livestock and new farm dogs are trained to ignore the birds. They
maintain existing nest sites, build new ones, plant shelter and pick up
any sick or injured birds and take them into Dunedin to a Department of
Conservation approved vet.
Occasionally they treat chicks with
medication if they get sick and work closely with the nearest penguin
rehabilitation unit at Penguin Place if any birds need more specialised
David McKay's first memory of working with penguins was with
his father when he was still at high school. Later he started working
with a marine biologist, collecting data and samples from penguins and
sea lions that hauled out on the beach.
At the time penguin chicks were vulnerable to predation by pests and
when the family asked a scientist what they could do to help, he
suggested they start trapping ferrets in gin traps set in tunnels. The
technique worked and made a difference to penguin numbers with better
Over the years he has witnessed first-hand the
yellow-eyed penguins' relentless battle for survival, challenged by
everything from diptheria outbreaks, algal blooms and predation by
mustelids (ferrets and stoats), wild cats and possums.
In 1989 a
large percentage of penguins on the McKay farm were wiped out by avian
malaria, which killed two thirds of the penguin population.
best we've had since then is 22 nests," David McKay says. "This year we
had 13 nests and most birds breeding this season have only had one chick
after a hard season last year."
He recalls one memorable incident
when he and a marine science student rescued a yellow-eyed penguin egg
from an abandoned nest. They took turns to keep the egg warm, cradled in
their hands for an hour and a half as they transferred it to a
surrogate nest at the other end of the farm.
By the time they got
there, the chick started responding to the warmth of their hands, so
they carefully pared away enough shell for it to break free. They placed
the egg under an adult bird and left, knowing they had at least done
their best to save it.
"The next day we went down to have a look
at the nest," he says. "The other adult had arrived back from sea and
was feeding the young chick. I was walking around six inches off the
ground for a few days after that."
During the breeding season, he
checks nest sites once a week and if he sees any sign of predation he is
down on the beach every day setting and checking traps to control
mustelids, wild cats and possums. The latter are known to eat eggs,
probably young chicks and destroy the foliage the birds depend on for
shade in hot summer weather.
Wild cats and rabbits are also a
massive problem. When people from the city can't afford to keep cats,
they often dump them on Otago Peninsula.
"Cats will have a go at
little blue penguins in a burrow but only a very brave cat will have a
go at a yellow-eyed penguin," he says. "Once the chicks are big enough
to go out to sea to feed themselves , they are better able to defend
themselves from cats."
The other major threat to penguin nesting
sites is damage done by two-legged intruders ignorant of the impact they
have on wildlife.
"In the good old days we didn't mind people
going down there until we started seeing people up around the nest
sites," he says. He saw one woman clearing branches around a nest so she
could get a better photograph. She scared the adults away and the
chicks were exposed to the elements.
"One day I saw a surfer
beating a sea lion about the head with a surfboard and that clinched
it," he says. It was surprising he hadn't been attacked or mauled.
days the McKay farm is not open to the public, other than small groups
lucky enough to get a personally guided tour of the wildlife by the
The McKays have noticed a strong recovery of native bird
life on their property since the Otago Peninsula Biodiversity Trust's
major poisoning operation to control possums in the Cape Saunders sector
a couple of years ago.
"We used to hear possums close to the
house all the time, but we haven't heard them for about a year really,"
Wilma says. "We saw a pair of tui for the first time in a cabbage tree
just off the deck. They only stayed about a week, but it's the first
time we've seen them up here."
"It's been very successful,
brilliant," her husband adds. "It's good for the bush, good for the
wildlife and good for the birds."
The New England Aquarium wants its endangered African penguins to get a little steamy.
The Associated Press
Published Saturday, April 18, 2015
BOSTON -- The New England Aquarium wants its endangered African penguins to get a little steamy.
Aquarium experts are playing matchmaker behind the scenes to encourage
eight pairs of African penguins to breed more chicks. Biologists say
that will help a population that's expected to be extinct in the wild by
2025 to continue to thrive in captivity.
The Boston facility is giving its penguins "honeymoon suites" -- cozy
plastic igloo-style homes and other private nooks off the main exhibit
designed to get them in the mood.
Over the past 15 years, the aquarium has sent 28 birds to seven different zoos and aquariums around North America.
King penguins are pretty social animals. Not only do they tend to
hang out in a big group, but even within the group, they form little
sub-groups; cliques of penguins who like to hang out together. In case
this couldn’t get any cuter, their chicks also hang out in groups
without any adult penguins around. Oh wait, it can get cuter; the
technical term for the group of penguin chicks hanging out together is a
‘crèche’. Sometimes crèches get broken up, or get mixed with other
crèches. Perhaps when a predator attacks the group and throws the
penguin chicks into flappy disarray. The chicks are then faced with the
task of getting back to the right place in their colony so that their
parents can find them again.
When chicks get lost they are generally pretty good at finding their
way back to their colony, especially during the day. Scientists proved
this by building an arena 100 metres away from the colony, taking a
chick and putting her in the arena. The chick waddled over to the side
of the arena closest to its colony, thus showing the scientists that she
knew perfectly well where her colony was.
When the scientists moved the
chicks to the arena at night it was harder for them to find their way
to the correct side of the arena, but if the wind was blowing towards
them they could, presumably because they could either hear or smell
their colony. And before you start feeling too bad for the chicks, they
were never taken out of their crèches for more than 90 minutes and as
parents only come and feed their chicks every few days they were
unlikely to be too worried about a missing chick.
Now, the chicks in a single crèche aren’t all exactly the same age,
and some have more experience than others. Therefore, it seems that if
the crèche were to become displaced from the rest of the colony it might
make sense for the younger, less experienced chicks to take a lead from
a more experienced chick. To find out if this was the case, a recent
study by Nesterova and colleagues created groups of chicks and then got
them lost to see what they would do.
It's easy to get lost from your creche
To make a mini-group of penguins for the purpose of the experiment,
the scientists put two chicks together. In one group, both of these
chicks were naïve, while in another group, one chick was naïve and the
other was more experienced (as much as a king penguin chick can be, I
assume). The main difference between the naïve and experienced penguin
chicks was that the naïve chicks had never had to navigate their way
back to their colony before, whereas the experienced birds had gotten
lost and found their way home before. I know which penguin chick I’d
rather be paired with.
Experienced chicks didn't wait for their slower counterparts
The researchers then picked up the two chicks, blind-folded them,
turned them around three times and put them in the enclosed arena. After
10 minutes in the arena, the door was opened and the chicks were
allowed to try to return to their colony.
The scientists found that when they released a pair of chicks where
one was experienced and one naïve, the experienced chick was faster at
getting back to its home crèche back in the colony than was the naïve
chick. What’s more, the experienced chick in the pair would tend to take
the lead, with the naïve bird waddling behind it. The experienced chick
didn’t seem to wait for its naïve buddy: it walked home just as quickly
as when the scientists released it by itself, often leaving its naïve
partner behind. The naïve chick could chose to follow its experienced
partner or not, and when it didn’t it didn’t do so well: it took longer
to get home and was more likely to get lost. It also did a lot worse if
it was released by itself, wandering around for much longer than if it
had an experienced chick with it to follow home.
This study clearly shows how experience is important for chicks in
finding their way home if they get lost. It also shows that the
experienced chick’s number one priority was to get back to its colony
rather than to stay with its new naïve chick pal, even though one might
have thought that this might be better for predator defence (and maybe
just to have a friend to walk with). Interestingly, when both chicks
were naïve, they took it in turns to lead and to follow when trying to
find their way home. And, before you ask, all chicks were reunited with
their home crèches at the end of the experiment.
Nesterova, A. P., Mardon, J., & Bonadonna, F. (2009). Orientation
in a crowded environment: can King Penguin (Aptenodytes patagonicus)
chicks find their creches after a displacement?. Journal of Experimental Biology, 212(2), 210-216.
Nesterova, A. P., Flack, A., van Loon, E. E., Bonadonna, F., &
Biro, D. (2015). The effect of experienced individuals on navigation by
king penguin chick pairs.Animal Behaviour, 104, 69-78.
About the Author: Felicity Muth is an early-career researcher with a PhD in animal cognition.
The Penguin Camera is located on Torgersen Island (64°46’S, 64°04’W), off the coast of Anvers Island and less than a mile from Palmer Station. Torgersen Island is home to a colony of Adélie penguins numbering approximately 2,500. This camera is seasonal and operates primarily from October to February, the Adélie breeding season. The camera is solar-powered and may sometimes experience brief outages due to inclement weather. School classrooms and other educational demonstrations will often take control of the camera, moving it to gain better views of the colony.
A lifelong student and confirmed polymath, I am currently writing my 2nd book this spring. I have an AS in Biology, a BA and an MA in English, plus I began a degree in Geology while living in CA. I am a retired herpetologist, but my blogs and current interests strive to promote animal conservation, particularly Penguins,Wolves, and Big Cats. I live with the loves of my life, Sissy, a Chihuahua, and Joey, Alero, Jillian, Loki, Jadin, Perse, Socks and Siggy - my ThunderCats - who help me cope with narcolepsy.