Sunday, January 25, 2015

Bald #penguin gets his own wetsuit

January 25, 2015

Ralph the penguin in wetsuit
Ralph the bald penguin is wrapped up in wetsuit Credit: Marwell Zoo

If you think it's cold, spare a thought for Ralph the penguin. The 16-year-old Humbolt penguin at Marwell Zoo has been fitted with a winter wetsuit.
He malts much quicker than the other penguins so he doesn't have any feathers to keep him warm. He has been fitted with the wetsuit for the past seven years.
Aside from wearing a wetsuit, Ralph swims, eats and plays just like the other penguins. The rubber in the wetsuit, which is the same as a human's wetsuit, is extremely flexible and doesn't restrict his movement.
His partner Coral can often be seen grooming Ralph's wetsuit just as she would if he had feathers.

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This Week's Pencognito!



#Penguins of the Day

Adelie Penguins 

Adelie Penguins by Christopher Michel

Adelie Penguins

Adelie Penguins by Christopher Michel

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Real #Penguin of Madagascar


Posted by Wildlife Conservation Society in Explorers Journal on January 24, 2015
By Graeme Patterson

It has been a decade since viewers first encountered the popular penguins of the crowd-pleasing Madagascar movie franchise. In the 2005 hit, the penguins eventually find their way to the island of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean along with their old friends from the Central Park Zoo: a zebra, lion, giraffe, and a hippo who accidentally got dropped off there. Adventures ensue, the running joke being that these visitors are all out of place on Madagascar, as indeed they are. Or are they?
A rockhopper penguin like the one pictured here is the only known penguin to have made it to Madagascar. Photo by Graham Harris ©WCS
A rockhopper penguin like the one pictured here is the only known penguin to have made it to Madagascar. Photo by Graham Harris ©WCS.
The island nation of Madagascar has for around 100 million years been separated from any major continental landmass. Its unique flora and fauna reflect this, having evolved there with little biological contact with the rest of the world. King Julien and his friends in the animated flick are lemurs,  a more primitive kind of primate (the  group that includes monkeys and apes) found only on Madagascar.

But what can we say about penguins in Madagascar with the celebration of Penguin Awareness Day this week? Sure enough, there really is a ‘Penguin of Madagascar.’
The island of Madagascar in the Southern Indian Ocean. This map can be seen in the Bronx Zoo’s Madagascar! exhibit. Photo by G. Patterson ©WCS.
The island of Madagascar in the Southern Indian Ocean. This map can be seen in the Bronx Zoo’s Madagascar! exhibit. Photo by G. Patterson ©WCS.

In January 1956, a local teacher on the island’s south coast showed a tourism officer a penguin that had been trapped on the beach. The officer took a photo of the penguin and sent it to the eminent French scientist and naturalist Renaud Paulian, who was working in Madagascar. Despite being more of an expert on beetles than birds, Paulian immediately identified it as a Southern Rockhopper Penguin and published his findings.

The fact that a penguin reached Madagascar’s coast is not all together surprising given that Southern Rockhopper Penguins breed as close as 1,500 miles further south (on the Prince Edward Islands in South Africa).

This intrepid bird was found in January, during the breeding season. Male penguins will travel long distances to get food while the females incubate the eggs. Given that there are no other records of penguins in Madagascar (not real penguins anyway!), this was a pretty gutsy individual. And for now he has the honor of being the only wild, non-animated penguin of Madagascar.
WCS works throughout Madagascar to ensure the conservation of the island's unique floral and faunal diversity. Photo by Julie Larsen Maher ©WCS.
WCS works throughout Madagascar to ensure the conservation of the island’s unique floral and faunal diversity. Photo by Julie Larsen Maher ©WCS.
And from this record we can add penguin to the extraordinary list of Madagascar species under threat. Though Madagascar is one of the richest places on earth for biodiversity, the Malagasy people are among the poorest on the planet. This has led to very little attention being paid to the unique plants and animals found there.

At least 18 species of lemur are known to have become extinct since humans first appeared on Madagascar only a few thousand years ago. Fossil evidence shows one of the species, a giant sloth lemur, was bigger than a modern day gorilla – weighing in at more than 300 pounds. How sad we will never get to see it!

Lemurs are a unique primate species found only on Madagascar. The ring-tailed lemur pictured here can be seen in the Bronx Zoo’s Madagascar! Exhibit.  Photo by Julie Larsen Maher © WCS.
Lemurs are a unique primate species found only on Madagascar. The ring-tailed lemur pictured here can be seen in the Bronx Zoo’s Madagascar! exhibit. Photo by Julie Larsen Maher ©WCS.


But let’s get back to those four Hollywood penguins — Skipper, Kowalski, Rico. and Private – who came from New York’s Central Park Zoo, operated by WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society). Even if their story is fiction, there is a real and strong link between New York and Madagascar.

WCS is one of the biggest conservation organizations in the world and has a permanent base in Madagascar working hard to conserve the unique species and habitats there. And in the sister organization to the Central Park Zoo – the Bronx Zoo – visitors can see the Madagascar! exhibit and learn what an amazing place the real island nation is and what organizations like WCS are doing there to protect its exceptional wildlife.
—————————————————————————-
Graeme Patterson is Deputy Director of the Africa Program for WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society).

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Which Athlete Was The Best At Hanging Out With A Penguin?

January 23 2015
Samar Kalaf

Friday, January 23, 2015

#Penguin of the Day (Wink!)


Winking Penguin

Winking Penguin by Leeds Medic

Spheniscus magellanicus - Peninsula Valdes

Thursday, January 22, 2015

#Penguins of the Day

Penguin 

Humboldt Penguin by Emma Rowley

Swimming Penguin 

Swimming Humboldt Penguin by Emma Rowley

Scientists Save #Penguin Chicks (video)


 
Published on Jan 20, 2015
 
African penguins are critically endangered, their colonies reduced by 70 percent in the last decade. Commercial fishing is to blame, emptying the penguins’ ocean range of the small, schooling fish that are their main food source. With penguin chicks’ growth and health in crisis, a hands-on rescue strategy could sustain struggling colonies while conservationists work to ensure the species’ survival.

How Falkland Science Symposium celebrated Penguin Awareness Day

Wednesday, January 21st 2015 
 
The world’s northernmost colony of king penguins has something to celebrate this week, as Tuesday marks Penguin Awareness Day and these well dressed seabirds play host to an international group of scientists gathered to discuss the Falkland Islands’ rich potential for new research.
Pan-American delegates to the Falklands Science Symposium enjoying the penguins at Volunteer Point (Pic SAERI)
King penguins are slightly smaller than their imperial cousins, but they have larger patches of golden feathers on their heads and necks
Gentoos were considered the most entertaining with their young still covered in down looking like plush dolls and triggering an irrepressible desire to buy penguin souvenirs
Magellanic couples leave one parent with the chicks in a small burrow dug into the sand on the beach, while the other headed to the sea to pick up some fish.


According to a piece posted by Andrew Howley from National Geographic, and based on reports from grantees Scott Baker and Steve Campana, the birds went wild with squawking, flapping, yodeling, and even sizeable hops that could almost pass for flying.

Hailing from countries up and down the Americas, these experts in life on land and sea, geology, oceanography, and information systems are taking part in the Falkland Islands Science Symposium, investigating opportunities for collaboration between themselves, the South Atlantic Environment Research Institute, SAERI, and other groups in the region.

Before the talks began though, the delegates piled into Land Rovers and headed out from the main town of Stanley up to Volunteer Point, to see the penguins.

The Falkland Islands are home to breeding colonies of five species of penguin. At our destination, there were three: king, gentoo, and Magellanic.

The Magellanic couples would leave one parent with the chicks in a small burrow dug into the sand on the beach, while the other headed for the waves to pick up some fish. Upon returning, the adults would sing out in unison a song that sounded like a kid blowing on a New Year’s noisemaker. Then they’d pause, maybe dip their heads, and start up with verse two.

This strange sound leads some to call them “jackass penguins,” though that is a term specifically for a similar but distinct African species. One noticeable difference: African penguins have one black stripe on their necks, Magellanics have two.

The kings mostly stood around like royalty. They are slightly smaller than their imperial cousins, but they have larger patches of golden feathers on their heads and necks, which contrast nicely against their blue-steel colored coats, giving them an elegant appearance among the rest of the black and white suits.

While small groups of kings waddled back and forth to the water or off to find a place to chill out far from the crowd, hundreds of individuals sat huddled in a mass on a dirt section by the hills, cradling eggs on their feet and squawking at any wanderer who passed by putting itself on display. Varying states of molting made some young kings appear to have elaborate or particularly Mr. T-like hairdos.
The most entertaining of all though were the gentoo penguins. Their young were still covered in down and looked like plush dolls positioned on the hills to ensure that visitors develop an irrepressible desire to buy penguin souvenirs. Their bright white eyebrows and orange-sherbet feet don’t hurt either.

They also put on the best show. Those gentoo parents returning from the sea to healthy, growing chicks were instantly bombarded by a flurry of flapping and screaming. Once they’d bent down their heads, opened wide, and regurgitated fish into the gaping mouths of their offspring, they would try to wrap up and move along. The chicks would chase them down till they relented and served up seconds of the day’s catch.

This repeating cycle meant that at any given moment, you could see several hilarious games of tag being carried out over the hills.

After a few hours of observations of the penguins, the team headed back to town, where locals knew well that Penguin Awareness Day was on the horizon. An appreciation of the penguins’ cuteness was fairly unanimous, as was respect for the adaptability of these seabirds.

On island groups like this, diversity and adaptability are useful for penguins, farmers, and scientists alike. As researchers develop ideas for new projects and collaboration at the #FalklandSci symposium, a good appreciation of the virtues of penguin-hood could help guide them to success.

 source

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

One last reminder on #PenguinAwarenessDay 2015--a #Penguin Eye Chart


Be sure to click eye chart for larger size

#MysticAquarium celebrates #PenguinAwarenessDay



(Photo: Mystic Aquarium)
(Photo: Mystic Aquarium)
MYSTIC, Conn. (WPRI) — Mystic Aquarium is celebrating National Penguin Awareness Day, the company announced on Tuesday.

In celebration of the penguin-loving day, Mystic Aquarium introduced their newest African penguin to the public on Tuesday.

The chick of the mother African penguin hatched on Jan. 8 and is doing well. According to a statement, the gender of the chick is currently unknown as there are no external characteristics to distinguish between males and females. DNA testing will be preformed in the coming months to determine it’s gender.

In March, the aquarium will broadcast the chick’s progress through their new “Penguin Cam.” Celebrations will also be planned in April for the chick’s first swim and in June for a gender reveal.
Mystic Aquarium is also celebrating National Penguin Awareness Day by having a penguin “take over” on their social media sites. Every hour on Jan. 20, Mystic Aquarium’s Facebook and Twitter feeds will post videos, images, and interesting facts about African penguins.

The African penguins were deemed endangered in 2010, and the aquarium loves to use this day to spread awareness about them. The penguins at Mystic play a big role in the African penguin Species Survival Plan, and the aquarium’s work allows for researchers to understand penguin behavior in the wild.
For more information about the penguins or the aquarium, visit www.mysticaquarium.org.

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Mystic Aquarium introduced their newest African penguin to the public on Jan. 20. The chick hatched on Jan. 8 and is doing well.
Credit: Photo: Mystic Aquarium

 Credit: Photo: Mystic Aquarium

Mystic Aquarium celebrated National Penguin Awareness Day on Jan. 20 by honoring the endangered African penguin species.
Credit: Photo: Mystic Aquarium

 Credit: Photo: Mystic Aquarium

Credit: Photo: Mystic Aquarium

 Credit: Photo: Mystic Aquarium

 Credit: Photo: Mystic Aquarium

Credit: Photo: Mystic Aquarium

13 facts about penguins to mark #PenguinAppreciationDay


Who can resist the sight of a penguin, be it sheltering against the Antarctic weather with its colony, taking a graceful swim or looking cute as a fluffy chick.
With everyone celebrating Penguin Appreciation Day, what more of an excuse do we need to serve up a smattering of pictures and a bevy of facts about the birds.

1. Speedy swimmer

Don’t be fooled by the sedate poses of these Humboldt penguins in the water. Some penguins can swim as fast as 20mph.
That’s because they are aided by a process known as porpoising. Tiny bubbles of air coat their feathers reducing friction with the waters surface so they can power along.
They also have extremely powerful flippers and streamlined bodies which make them excellent swimmers. In fact, they are the fastest swimming and deepest diving species of any bird.

2. Penguin poo helps scientists find new colonies from space

That’s because penguin and seabird poo, actually called guano, has a unique spectral signature which can be identified from satellite imagery using infra red. Basically, if they can see a lot of staining, chances are something has been to the toilet, and that something, is a penguin.

3. There are 18 types of penguins in the world

Five of them are thought to be endangered and facing possible extinction unless strong conservation measures are taken, like the work of The Truell Charitable Foundation.

4. Meet the Adelie penguin

The Adelie penguin is one of the smallest and most widely found penguins on Antarctica. To recognise it quickly, check out the white ring around each eye. It can dive to 180 metres, but catches food closer to the surface. There’s thought to about five million left and listed as ‘near threatened’.

5. The Southern hemisphere rocks!

Well it does for penguins. We might have penguins in our John Lewis Christmas adverts and zoos, but really these birds are at home in the Southern Hemisphere.

6. When a penguin lives ‘up north’, it actually means….

There are penguins on the Galapagos Islands. The Galapagos penguin is the northernmost species, living around the equator. Not north at all.

7. African penguins

African penguins enjoy an average life expectancy of about 20 years in the wild. In general, penguins can live for anything between 15-20 years.

8. Happy at sea

Penguins spend about 60 per cent of their lives at sea. In fact, they spend so much time in the water, their eyesight is far superior beneath the surface than above in the air. They can even drink sea water.

9. Funny guys

We can’t help but smile at this picture of a Fiordland penguin. But they are another species which is listed as vulnerable.

10. Humboldt penguin chicks are really cute

This chick was born in a zoo (hence why it’s being handled), but in the wild, a Humboldt penguin can expect to live for about 20 years, living on a diet of herring, anchovies, and smelt. They are most likely to be found in South America, on the coast of Peru and Chile.

11. Tricky to count

We’ve already heard how poo has helped to spot new penguin colonies, but even before that, Very High Resolution satellites were used to count penguins. That’s how in 2012, British Antarctic Survey (BAS) researchers counted 595,000 birds, almost double previous estimates of between 270,000 and 350,000. But they are really sociable animals with some breeding colonies numbering in the tens of thousands.

12. Quick growth

Penguin chicks usually put on 10% of their body weight every day. Penguins can eat a variety of sealife, including krill, fish, shrimp and even squid.

13. Big and small

The largest penguin is the Emperor penguin, which can also stay underwater for 20 minutes, while the smallest is imaginatively-called Little Penguin or Little Blue Penguin. This little fellow is two weeks old, and was born at a Cincinnati Zoo, but Little Penguins are found in Australia and New Zealand. Adults stand just over 25cm and weigh about a kilo.

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