Sunday, November 30, 2008

South African Penguin Rescue

Image of the Day

Cuddle, originally uploaded by chris veeschkens.

Auckland Penguins Safe--For the Moment

Penguin-unfriendly slick disperses

30/11/2008 5:20:02

A slick which threatened a penguin breeding ground in Doubtful Sound appears to have dispersed.

The 1.7- kilometre slick was caused when the tourist vessel Waverley sank near Matai Island, releasing about 700 litres of fuel.

Environment Southland spokesman Kevin O'Sullivan says wind has helped disperse the diesel.

He says there are no signs of environmental damage from the diesel, or from fuel oil.

Story courtesy of Newstalk at Auckland @

Galveston Gentoos Busy Nesting

Penguins lay eggs at Moody Gardens

10:40 PM CST on Thursday, November 13, 2008 staff report

GALVESTON, Texas—In the midst of Galveston’s recovery effort after Hurricane Ike, there was another sign of hope in the community this week.

Two gentoo penguin eggs were recently laid at the Moody Gardens Aquarium Pyramid, signaling optimal conditions and behavior in the popular penguin habitat.

“It’s exciting to see the eggs and to know the storm and power issues didn’t disrupt their breeding season,” said Diane Olsen, assistant curator at the Aquarium Pyramid, who added that the penguins wasted no time producing eggs after the storm. “As soon as we had power back on, we started seeing nesting behavior.”

Breeding behavior is an indication of their healthy and happy state, and among the five penguin species at Moody Gardens the gentoo penguins are particularly experienced in mating and parenting, Olsen said.

The eggs typically take about four weeks to hatch. “At this pace, we may have another reason to be grateful.

Story and photo courtesy of KHOU @

Beach Closes for Yellow Penguins

Beach closure to assist yellow-eyed penguins
Sat, 29 Nov 2008

Boulder Beach Conservation Area, an important yellow-eyed penguin breeding area on Otago Peninsula, will be closed to the public for three months from December 1.

It is the third year the Department of Conservation has closed the beach, which is home to more than 60 breeding pairs of the threatened species.

Doc Coastal Otago biodiversity programme manager David Agnew said nesting yellow-eyed penguins did not respond well to human interference.

"We are repeating our actions of the past two years because of the beneficial effect the closures have already shown on nest survival-rate and chick weights," he said, noting chick weight gave a true indication of health.

"Over the past two seasons we have been very pleased and grateful for the way the public has responded to this measure to protect hoiho," he said.

Story courtesy of the Otago Daily Times @
Picture source: Wikipedia

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Friday, November 28, 2008

Gay Penguins Steal Eggs from Straight Couple

Gay penguin couple accused of stealing eggs from straights

By Julia Ziemer • November 28, 2008 - 16:07

A pair of gay penguins has been stealing eggs from straight couples in an attempt to become 'fathers'.

The three-year-old male penguins who are kept in Polar Land in Harbin, north-east China attempted to conceal their theft by placing stones at the feet of the parents before waddling away with their eggs.

The deception however was noticed by the other penguins and the couple were soon ostracised from the group.

Keepers have decided to segregate the pair during hatching season to avoid disrupting the rest of the community.

Explaining the urge of the penguins to be fathers, a keeper from the zoo told the Austrian Times:

"One of the responsibilities of being a male adult is looking after the eggs. Despite this being a biological impossibility for this couple, the natural desire is still there.

"It's not discrimination. We have to fence them separately, otherwise the whole group will be disturbed during hatching time," he added.

Whilst examples of homosexuality in animals exist in many species, it is stories of penguins that have attracted the most attention.

In Germany, a zoo provoked anger from gay-rights groups when it attempted to mate a group of male penguins with Swedish female birds who were brought in especially to 'seduce' them.

The attempt failed however as the penguins refused to be 'turned', showing little interest in their would-be mates.

The children's book And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, published in 2005, tells the true story of penguins Roy and Silo, who formed a couple in New York's Central Park Zoo.

They attempted to hatch a rock, which was replaced by a rejected egg from a mixed gender couple by zoo keepers. They then adopted the baby penguin Tango as their own.

Several libraries stocking the book received complaints from people accusing the book of promoting homosexuality and being 'anti-family' as well as unsuitable for its age group.

It has attracted great controversy in US states with parents in Illinois and Missouri requesting the book be placed in a restricted or non-fiction section of the library.

"The complaints are that young children will believe that homosexuality is a lifestyle that is acceptable.

"The people complaining, of course, don't agree with that," said Judith Krug, director of the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom.

The number of reported library complaints about And Tango Makes Three dropped from 546 in 2006 to 420 in 2007.

Story from Pink News @

Friday Videos!

Image of the Day

Taronga Zoo, originally uploaded by meerkat woman.

Little blue penguin

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Penguins of South Georgia

P-p-play with a penguin
by LYN HUGHES - Monday, November 24, 2008

On the anniversary of its 100th issue, Lyn Hughes, editor-in-chief of Wanderlust, Britain's leading magazine for independent-minded travellers, remembers her top five places.

Her # 5 Place: Among the penguins of South Georgia, 2005

Set between South America and Antarctica, the remote island of South Georgia is a sensory overload. It has a population of just four people, plus scientists, but a staggering amount of wildlife, from shaggy reindeer to massive elephant seals.

With a glacier at one end of the beach, the huge expanse of Salisbury Plain would have been impressive even without the 100,000 king penguins dotted along its length and up the hillside behind.

The kings seemed oblivious to us as they went around their daily business. We'd been told to keep a distance of 15 feet (4m), but they clearly hadn't been at the same briefings. Sit down and you just became a blob of Gore-tex in a sea of sleek black and white. It's the only time I've known fellow travellers spontaneously cry at the natural wonder of it all.

Story courtesy of @

Firefighters To Fill African Penguins' Pool

AP File PhotoAfrican penguins wait to be fed as a crowd gathers to watch at the New Jersey State Aquarium in Camden, N.J.

Lehigh County firefighters to fill African penguins' pool at Lehigh Valley Zoo

by Precious Petty
Tuesday November 25, 2008, 2:33 PM

A group of eight African penguins won't make their debut at Lehigh Valley Zoo until next month, but officials, with assistance from local fire departments, are getting the birds' home ready this week.

Firefighters from the Schnecksville, Tri-Clover, Neffs and Lynnport departments plan to transport the water that will be used to fill a 60,000-gallon pool in the penguin exhibit at 9 a.m. Saturday, according to a Lehigh County news release.

Tom Nervine, the Lehigh County director of emergency services, said each fire truck can carry about 3,000 gallons of water. That means each truck will have to make six trips to and from the North Whitehall Township zoo to get the job done, he said.

The penguins, native to South Africa, are in quarantine right now but may be introduced to their new home as early as next week, Lehigh County spokeswoman Kathleen Parrish said.

From The Express Times @

Melbourne Aquarium's New Penguin Display

Melbourne Aquarium unveils new Antarctic penguins

Posted Wed Nov 26, 2008 2:09pm AEDT

Australia's first collection of sub-antarctic penguins have gone on show at a new $28-million exhibition at the Melbourne Aquarium.

The collection features five majestic king penguins keeping a watchful eye over 13 other gentoo penguins.

Tristen Bird, the aquarium's bird co-ordinator says the gentoo penguins are extremely inquisitive and active.

"They have an enormous level of energy when they get up in the morning and really they are on the go all day long," he said.

He says the king penguins, with a splash of red around their throats are regal, majestic and reserved.

"They truly are the kings of the penguin world. They're a little bit more, I guess standoffish than their gentoo friends."

The penguins have been in Melbourne for two months and have just finished their quarantine period.

The animals were bred in captivity and have never actually lived in the Antarctic.

The enclosure is kept at below zero temperatures and tonnes of snow will be created daily to make the animals feel at home.

Story and pictures from ABC Australia @

Frosty reception for Melbourne Aquarium's penguin display

Geoff Strong
November 26, 2008 - 5:34PM

Melbourne Aquarium's new penguin exhibit, which is meant to mirror a slice of Antarctica and requires a tonne of fresh snow a day, has received a frosty reception.

Opened today, the $28 million showpiece, which houses Australia's only collection of King and Gentoo penguins, has been accused of breaking an undertaking to animal welfare groups.

Animals Australia claims the aquarium has abandoned a planning deal with Melbourne City Council - made before the establishment opened in 2000 - that penguins or seals would not be exhibited.

The animal welfare group's executive director Glenys Oogjes said she was terribly disappointed.

"Now matter how much they have spent, penguins swim hundreds of kilometres in search of food. Putting them in an enclosure sends entirely the wrong message," she said.

"It is not educational, it is entertainment."

The exhibit has doubled the footprint of the aquarium and includes a temperature controlled environment, a 100,000 litre pool and a light cycle that changes to replicate the short winter days and very long summer days of the Antarctic seasons.

The aquarium's management says the exhibit was installed under the supervision of the RSPCA and changes were made on their recommendations.

Communications Manager Daniel Petrillo denied any non-penguin agreement had been reached with Animals Australia or any other group.

"Absolutely not. We had no agreement not to exhibit penguins, seals or anything else.

"The only agreement we had was not to exhibit the little blue penguins so as not to compete with Phillip Island.

"We have gone with the advice of the leading animal welfare body in Australia and we have their written endorsement. In business you never say never to anything."

But the RSPCA's national president Dr Hhugh Wirth denied any written agreement had been given. He said his organisation had looked at plans and given recommendations.

"We will do an inspection next month," he said.

"We thought we might object to the exhibit in principle, but in the end we are reasonably happy about it all."

The exhibit includes five 95 centimetre tall King Penguins and 17 of the 85 centimetre Gentoos. All were captive bred in a New Zealand zoo. The aquarium expects 900,000 visitors a year.

This story was found at:

Image of the Day

Hi folks, originally uploaded by mgsbird.

Greeting party of Adelie Penguin chicks at Brown Bluff, Antarctica.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Penguin Images-Lots of Penguin Images!

Come see Mutual of Omaha's collection of Adelie Penguin images HERE

(And don't forget to click on the "more photos" link in the upper right hand corner of the frame!)

AND... a video HERE

Need a Light?

The blurb:
Perfect for emergency preparedness and cute to boot, this adorable penguin eco flashlight would make an excellent addition to any home. The bright light eschews a landfill-bound battery for a pump powered kinetic charger that provides an hour of light for each minute spent pumping. Capable of functioning as either a nightlight or a flashlight, it’s also a great way to teach growing tots about renewable energy.


Found at Inhabitat @

Image of the Day

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

New Nest Boxes for African Penguins

Image from Flickr

Nest Boxes for African Penguins--You Can Help
By Christina Taylor

African penguin chicks at Boulders Beach in Simon's Town on the Cape Peninsula will be getting new nest boxes to protect them from predators, thanks to a programme that will allow public sponsorship of the one-family fibreglass homes.

For R200, individuals may "adopt" a nest box, big enough for one adult and two chicks, that will be monitored as penguin couples settle in to breed.

Table Mountain National Park section ranger Monique Ruthenberg said the enclosed boxes would mimic the natural nest shape and protect growing chicks from elements and predators such as kelp gulls and mongoose.

The project has been launched by iKapa Honorary Rangers in support of the park's efforts to revive the colony, whose numbers have declined sharply with those of the wider penguin population.

The Boulders colony shrank from around 3 900 to close to 2 600 penguins between 2005 and last year, Ruthenberg said. The population of the endangered African penguin has declined "dramatically" in recent years, to around 120 000 birds.

"(In) some areas (numbers) have gone down by as much as 50 percent," Ruthenberg said.

Although the decline is thought to be linked to food chain problems, Ruthenberg said it was important to include solutions on land in the effort to save the bird from extinction.

Park staff were also trying to cut speeding, which had led to a number of penguin deaths on roads.

Sue Smith, chair of iKapa, said 20 boxes had been "sold".

Sponsors would receive a "Friends of SANParks" certificate, and their names would be included on a map of nest boxes, to be displayed at Boulders Penguin Colony.

# Phone Johan Noeth on 083 299 8474 or e-mail johan.noeth or hgibson@ to sponsor a box.

Story by:
at IOL @

New Enclosure for Yarmouth's Humboldt Penguins

Image from Flickr

Penguin plans for Sealife Centre

17 November 2008

They are more used to swimming in the seas off South America - but now eight penguins could be waddling their way to Yarmouth's beach.

The resort's Sealife Centre has applied to build a £200,000 penguin enclosure to house four breeding pairs of Humboldt penguins.

If approved by Yarmouth Borough Council the new 140sq ft attraction could be open in time for Easter and is expected to draw even more visitors curious to see the water loving birds.

The seafront outdoor enclosure will include a swimming pool and nest boxes and will be netted off to prevent anyone going near the 8 penguins.

It will be built on part of the Marine Parade site's current car park and will create two jobs.

The enclosure scheme was submitted after visitor surveys revealed that people would like to see penguins added as an attraction.

Manager Mike Salt said: “We are all very excited about these plans and I am sure the penguins will prove to be very popular.”

When the enclosure is built the four pairs of penguins will be moved from their current home in a Sealife Centre in Weymouth.

Earlier in the year the Yarmouth centre added a new exhibition of hundreds of exotic and poisonous jellyfish.

Story courtesy of Advertiser24 in the UK @

Dr Boersma's Important Work with Penguins

Oiled Gentoo Penguin
credit: © Roger Grace/Greenpeace

Oiled Jackass Penguins, South Africa.
© International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).

Plunging penguin populations are a signal that the world’s oceans are suffering the effects of climate change, fishing and oil and gas development, according to an analysis that could provide new ammunition for groups seeking global protection for the birds.

The paper’s author, University of Washington conservation biologist P. Dee Boersma, who has studied the birds for more than 30 years, says that in recent decades, populations of the world’s 16 to 19 penguin species have begun to dwindle, with about two-thirds now under threat. “Life is not likely to get easier for penguins,” Boersma reports. “They have to withstand both climate variation and human development.”

Boersma, who has tracked penguins at Punta Tombo, Argentina (the largest breeding colony in Patagonia) for 25 years, says that the number of breeding pairs there fell from about 400,000 in the late 1960s to about 200,000 in 2006.

On the Antipodes Islands — about 500 miles from the New Zealand coast — the number of erect-crested penguin breeding pairs dropped by half between 1978 and 1995, to about 50,000. And on the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, the numbers of Adélie and chinstrap penguins have shown a similar decline, having fallen by about 50 per cent since the mid-1970s.

In the United States, the Fish and Wildlife Service is considering extending Endangered Species Act protections to 10 penguin species in South America, southern Africa and Antarctica. The agency said last summer that listing the birds “may be warranted” but failed to meet a November deadline for deciding whether the species qualify and proposing a listing. The Center for Biological Diversity has filed suit against the agency in an effort to speed up its decision-making process.

‘Marine sentinels’

One looming threat for many penguin species is climate change. Rising temperatures and declining sea ice cover are shifting breeding grounds and reducing the amount of food available for some birds.

One study, published in February in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, predicts that if the Southern Ocean warms by 0.47 degrees Fahrenheit, changes in the migratory patterns of fish and declines in the krill population could cause a sharp drop in the number of king penguins — a species that rebounded from near-extinction over the past century.

In the new paper, Boersma recounts her first-hand experience in late 2005 at the French base at Dumont d’Urville, Antarctica. Emperor penguins wintering in the area — featured in the film March of the Penguins — were forced to move their breeding site by 3 miles to find sturdy sea ice and strong enough winds to keep the area snow-free, since their chicks take months to develop enough feathers and fat to survive on their own.

But by September 2006, a storm broke up that ice, putting the colony’s half-grown chicks in the water, with the likely result of a “total colony-wide breeding failure,” Boersma said.

Other threats the birds face include the rise of tourist traffic to breeding colonies, commercial fishing, energy exploration and marine pollution.

In the end, Boersma said, penguins have become “marine sentinels” that point to a need for better stewardship of the oceans. “Penguins face a gauntlet of environmental challenges, from climate change to human take,” she said.

You can read Dr. Boersma's paper

Story courtesy of People and Planet @

Image of the Day

Rockhopper Penguin, originally uploaded by Kathryn002.

Monday, November 17, 2008

A Great NG Video--Just had to share it

Image of the Day

NL-107064, originally uploaded by aniarenia.

Nah, it's not real... but it made you think. :)

A Story of an Orphaned African Penguin

The Epic Journey of an Orphan African Penguin
21 October 2008

An African Penguin chick, left to starve by its parents have recently caused quite a stir among conservationist after swimming an amazing 1250 km - from Dyer Island, off Gansbaai, around Cape Point and north to Mercury Island near Luderitz in Namibia.

“This was the first sighting of a 'rubber banded' penguin in Namibia.” says Deon Geldenhuys Conservation Manager at Dyer Island. He explains that the South African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) has confirmed that the bird, sporting a rubber band numbered F0054 was one the Dyer Island chicks, abandoned by their parents in 2007.

F0054 was collected by CapeNature Dyer Island staff in November last year, with other abandoned chicks on the island and taken to SANCCOB in Table View. After being fattened up by SANCCOBB she was released back on Dyer Island in December that year, as a ‘blue’ (fledgling) with a weight of 2.74 kg from 1.1 kg.

“African Penguin chicks are sometimes abandoned by their parents at the end of the breeding season when they (the adults) need to moult.” Deon said. “Given the continuous decline of the African Penguins, abandoned chicks (who would starve) are uplifted from the colonies and send to SANCCOB to be raised, and are then released back onto the colonies. In 4-5 years time once matured, they will become part of the breeding population”

Deon went on to say: “African Penguins are considered as 'vulnerable' possibly soon to be extinct by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Dyer Island has seen a 90% drop in African Penguins in the last 30 years.

“The 2008 African Penguin monitoring is drawing to a close on the island. During the year, the African Penguin’s chick growth and condition, breeding success and population size as well as diet have been monitored. GPS loggers were also deployed on the birds in July and August of this year with the aim to see how far and where the birds are feeding, as well as to have a look at their dive profiles. All this information gives an indication as to how hard the birds need to work to find their fish.”

Preliminary results show that the maximum distance that a bird was away from it's nest was 43km (with an average of 34km), and one bird spent 166km (round trip) looking for food. This data will be analyzed and compared with what is being found at the other African Penguin colonies to determine if some colonies are finding it more difficult to find sufficient food resources than others. This project forms part of a larger feasibility study initiated by MCM that is having a look at the impact of temporary fishery closures around African Penguin breeding colonies on the bird's breeding success. Dassen Island was closed to pelagic fishing this year within a 20km radius of the island, while Robben and Dyer Islands remained open. This project continues in 2009.



Until three decades ago, Dyer Island had the largest African Penquin colony of all southern African islands with about 22000 breeding pairs, currently the population stands at about 1600 breeding pairs. A new project is now being initiated by Marine and Coastal Management to investigate the impact of fishery closures around African Penguin breeding islands and investigating the impact this has on their breeding success.

The island is recognized as an Important Bird Area (IBA), which gives Dyer Island the same status as an IBA anywhere else in the world. There are 1228 IBAs in Africa, and 101 in South Africa. Thus, from a national bird conservation perspective, Dyer Island is one of the hundred most important sites in the country.

Oiled penguins wash up on Dyer Island annually and have been for the last number of years, more so during winter. Ships illegally clean their tanks out at sea or sometimes big winter swells shifts sunken containers on the sea floor which continues to leak oil. Once the birds are oiled, the feathers loose their insulating properties and the birds will die of starvation as they cannot go out into the cold Atlantic Ocean to search for food.


A CapeNature 21 day exchange program

CapeNature fieldrangers, based at Walker Bay, De Mond, Vrolikheid Marloth, Limietberg and Kogelberg play a crucial role to secure the future of the species on the island. Very little of the monitoring work, saving oiled birds and orphan chicks, maintenance and so on would be possible without them.

The island is permanently manned by two field staff 365 days a year (including Easter, Christmas and New Year). The field rangers work a 21 day duty, and then the next team comes on and takes over. Conservation manager Deon Geldenhuys is continuously on call for the island staff.

The work they do include the following:

Ecological:Moult counts, reading flipper bands (retraps), catching oiled birds, monitoring for avian cholera outbreaks in Cape Cormorants, monitoring seal predation, counts of various bird species, breeding success monitoring of oystercatchers

Maintenance: depending on the budget constraints - they do basic maintenance, and ensure there is enough fresh water on the island by using the desalination plant on the island.


Though a partnership between CapeNature and the Dyer Island Conservation Trust artificial penguin burrows have been supplied, since most of the guano (bird ‘poo’) was scraped from the island in the 1900’s. The burrows assist the birds to breed underground, out of the sun and safe from egg and chick predation by kelp gulls. For more information or to contribute visit the Dyer Island Conservation Trust website:

Contact Lauren Waller for more info @ Lauren Waller is currently doing her PHD focusing on: seabird conservation and best management practices on Dyer Island

FOR MORE INFORMATION AND COMMENTS CONTACT: Deon Geldenhuys, Conservation Manager Dyer Island- mobile: 082 496 3395


Liesl Brink

Public Relations Officer

Mobile: 072 488 6768


Original Page:[p1][action]=content&sm[p1][cntid]=1403&sm[p1][persistent]=1&

Special thanks to "Nothing but Penguins" at for their bringing this story to my attention. :)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Neat New Penguin Videos

Image of the Day

Magellanic Penguins, originally uploaded by johnnwonknu.

Image of the Day-Friday

Magellanic Penguins, originally uploaded by johnnwonknu.

This Week's Pencognito!





Please visit Jen and all the pengies

Regardless of Composition, Giant Penguin Will Be There Always

Penguin `to always have its tourist drawcard'

15/11/2008 1:00:00 AM

CENTRAL Coast Mayor Mike Downie is adamant there will always be a Big Penguin at Penguin, even if the current statue is found to contain asbestos.

Consulting occupational hygienist Caroline Langley was hard at work yesterday, taking samples from the tourist icon to be sent away for analysis.

"If the tests state it needs to be removed or replaced in a certain time, I'd imagine the council would need to consider the pros and cons of that," Cr Downie said.

"But regardless of what happens, there will always be a Big Penguin in Penguin."

SEAN FORD reports,

Story and picture courtesy of The Advocate:

Friday, November 14, 2008

Is 30 Year Old Penguin Safe?

The 30-year-old big penguin at Penguin is made from asbestos cement.

Asbestos scare prompts Big Penguin test

(ABC News: David Reilly)
Posted Thu Nov 13, 2008 6:14pm AEDT

Tests will be carried out today on the Big Penguin tourist attraction in Tasmania's north-west to determine whether it is a public health danger.

It is believed the statue is made of the deadly fibre asbestos.

The Big Penguin was erected in 1975 to mark the centenary of the town of Penguin.

The former Goliath Cement employee that sculpted the 3 metre sea bird, Andrew Bennie, says it contains asbestos.

The Central Coast Council is taking the issue seriously, ordering a forensic examination.

Mayor Mike Downie says if there is any danger the council would consider erecting a new sculpture.

"Regardless of what happens with the reports that come back there will be a big penguin in Penguin," he said.

Results from the tests are expected next week.
Photo and story courtesy of ABC News-Australia

Pups Help to Save Little Penguins

Puppy Power is Penguins' Saviour

Story by Tina Liptai
November 13, 2008

A world-first dog trial has proved central to turning around the fate of Warrnambool's Middle Island penguin colony - and now the next generation of pups is set to continue the good work.

After dwindling to a dire population of just four in 2005, penguin numbers at Middle Island have rebounded this year.

An early start to the breeding season has already seen eight penguin chicks leave the nest and another 16 are still on the island in various stages of development.

Deakin University PhD student Amanda Peucker, who is monitoring the penguins' progress, said the population growth could largely be attributed to the success of the guard dogs in keeping predators, like foxes, off the island.

"A couple of years ago we had something like 180 penguins killed by foxes, now there aren't even any fox prints in the area," she said.

Mrs Peucker said about 51 penguins returned to Middle Island this breeding season. "Every year we get just a few more birds breeding," she said.

"It's very exciting going out there and seeing the chicks grow.

"The early breeding season this year was a bit of a bonus too, so hopefully we'll get some more eggs laid in the next few weeks."

After the success of the trial, two female Maremma puppies are undergoing training to become the permanent guardians of the little penguins during breeding season.

Environmental scientist and dog trainer Dave Williams said he expected the dogs would be placed on the island full-time next month, when they were six months old.

Right now the pair is regularly on Middle Island learning the ropes from Esta, an older Maremma that is teaching the puppies guardian behaviour. The Maremma guard dog project, which began late in 2006, hasn't been without controversy. The dogs were taken off the island last December after accidentally killing 10 penguins.

However, Warrnambool City Council decided in May this year to extend the project for another 12 months at an estimated cost of $40,000.

This includes the employment of a Maremma carer, dog training and monitoring equipment.

Story and picture courtesy of The Age.Com.AU@

Peril for Punta Tombo Penguins

Penguins at Punta Tombo in Peril

Based at the provincial reserve at Punta Tombo, Argentina, a small group of researchers under the direction of Dee Boersma, professor of biology at the University of Washington, follow individual penguins, monitor the colony and develop the data needed to plan effective conservation efforts. They also try and understand the importance of penguins as indicators of global climate change and environmental health.

Long-term studies such as this one clarify the effects of humans on the environment and help train a new generation of conservation biologists. With funding from the National Science foundation, the study so far has documented a 20 percent decline in breeding pairs of Magellanic penguins at Punta Tombo over the last 15 years.

The researchers believe the decline is partly related to penguins getting caught in the nets of fishing boats and because of the dumping of ballast water contaminated with petroleum. Boersma and her colleagues intend to spend the next decade using the penguins to help in making human ocean uses more compatible with wildlife. One of the first steps is to zone the South Atlantic Ocean with wildlife in mind, and reduce the conflicts between people and wildlife.

Credit: Boersma Lab, University of Washington
Image: National Geographic

Penguin Locomotion

Secret to Penguin Locomotion Revealed

By Clara Moskowitz, Special to LiveScience

13 November 2008 09:10 am ET

Penguins are wobbly on land, but their extreme underwater agility involves the perfection of a twisting wing motion that is just now coming to be understood.

A new study found that by twisting their wings while pumping them under water to swim, the birds are able to vary the thrust of their flapping and increase control over their movements.

The motion is so useful researchers are testing it out on prototypes for new underwater spy vehicles.

"All this has become possible because of this penguin wing, which is using the same dynamic principles as fruit flies and other winged insects use in the air," said researcher Promode Bandyopadhyay of the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Newport, R.I.

To study the physics of penguins' swimming wing motions, Bandyopadhyay and his colleague David Beal, also of the Naval Undersea Warfare Center, built robotic models of penguin wings in the lab. While the wings twisted, the scientists measured the effect on lift, drag, thrust and other forces affecting a flying or swimming body.

They found that by slightly corkscrewing their flapping wings, penguins achieve a 20 percent increase in thrust, or push forward. This is because more surface area of the wing is being used to generate force.

"If you are not twisting, the inner part of the wing is not being used very well," Bandyopadhyay told LiveScience. "But when you twist the angle of attack, you're getting to use more of the wing. By twisting only slightly, you can vary the thrust by 20 percent with no loss of efficiency."

The twisting motion boosts the force significantly, but takes less energy than increasing the rate of flapping. It's also very useful for speed control — by altering the amount of twist, penguins have a good way to slow down or speed up without changing the pattern of their flapping.

The scientists think this type of motion could be built into wings on small underwater vehicles, such as military spy craft. To test the idea, Bandyopadhyay and Beal built two small vehicles with twisting wings that allow for good control over speed. The robotic craft, about 3 feet (1 meter) long, could potentially be used to detect an enemy approaching a larger underwater military target.

"Because its wings consume very little energy, this is going to swim in the ocean for months with very little energy consumption," Bandyopadhyay said. "If there is an enemy, this vehicle will be the first one to detect that, and swim up to the surface to report its finding."

The researchers will present their findings Nov. 23 at the annual meeting of the American Physical Society's Division of Fluid Dynamics.


Story and pix courtesy of Live Science @

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Image of the Day

Alone on the beach, originally uploaded by man_with_noname.

A Magellanic penguin waiting for friends at East Green Rincon, on the north coast of Pebble Island, Falkland.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

New Penguin Exhibit Coming to the National Aviary

National Aviary To Break Ground on $1.7 Million African Penguin Exhibit
PITTSBURGH – November 11, 2008

The National Aviary today announced the November 14 groundbreaking for a new $1.7 million outdoor exhibit that will immerse visitors in the sights and sounds of a real penguin colony.

Penguin Point, the Aviary’s new 2,300 square-foot African penguin exhibit, will afford up-close, 360-degree views of African penguins swimming, playing, nesting and scaling rocks in an open-air space. A wheelchair accessible Kids ViewTube under the exhibit will offer underwater views of the penguins as they dive, swim and “fly” through the pool, while domed bubbles allow young guests the chance to pop up in the middle of the penguin group.

Groundbreaking for the exhibit, which is being designed by Peckham Guyton Albers & Viets, Inc. of St. Louis (PGAV), will take place at the National Aviary the evening of November 14. Construction is expected to be completed by late spring 2009.

“Our penguins are decidedly our most popular residents, but the Aviary has never had a public exhibit space to accommodate them,” says National Aviary CEO Linda Dickerson. “Until now, the only opportunity for guests to enjoy these remarkable birds has been through shows and educational presentations. With this new exhibit, visitors will find themselves in the midst of what will feel like an actual penguin colony, with all the arguing, jostling, swimming and playing that you would see in the wild.”

The new penguin exhibit is the first of 10 new exhibits that are part of a $23 million expansion and renovation of the National Aviary that includes a FliteZone™ theater for indoor bird shows, a green roof for raptor flight demonstrations, a Café, new classrooms, and a Conservation and Field Research Center. The National Aviary’s overall reconstruction, including expanded building wings and new façades, is a project of SPRINGBOARD Architecture Communication Design LLC of Pittsburgh; the FliteZone™ Theater, the Rooftop Raptor Encounter theater and new interior exhibit spaces have been designed by PGAV.

“Creating a penguin exhibit was a priority for us, not only because of the appeal of these birds, but also because of their rapidly declining wild populations,” says National Aviary Board Chair Mike Flinn. “This exhibit will provide a compelling forum for educating visitors about these birds and the need for all of us to take conservation action.”

When completed, the Kids ViewTube will be dedicated to National Aviary docent Chandler Ketchum, who passed away suddenly on October 28, 2008. A graduate of Edinboro University, Ketchum was an avid bird watcher and dedicated Aviary volunteer.

Individuals, families and organizations that wish to play a role in building the new exhibit can purchase a wooden penguin imprinted with their name that will become a permanent part of the exhibit area. The wooden penguins are available for $100 and can be purchased by contacting Kelly McCoy at 412.323.7235, x235.

Penguin Point Fun Facts

Recruiting the team…
The National Aviary is currently home to five penguins: Stanley, Simon, Patrick, Elvis and Sidney – but up to 10 additional penguins will be recruited for the new exhibit.

Penguins in their midst…
Once they enter Penguin Point, guests will find themselves outdoors in the midst of a mini penguin colony where birds dive and torpedo their way through the acrylic-fronted pool. Guests who move to the back of the exhibit will be nearly nose to beak with penguins perched on the rock wall, while those who enter the Kids ViewTube can see the birds’ antics from all directions

So that’s why they call them jackass penguins…

African penguins have several official names, including black-footed penguin and yes, jackass penguin, the latter due to their honking braying call that sounds remarkably like a donkey.

An egg-cellent view…
Penguin Point will include several built-in nesting cubbies. In time, the National Aviary plans to breed select members of the group, and guests will have the opportunity to watch the eggs hatch and the chicks develop. Once hatched, the chicks will be fed regurgitated food by both parents.

0-0-Penguin: The Ocean is Not Enough
In the 1920s there were over one million African penguins in existence. Today there are only about 100,000 of these birds left in the wild, and African penguins are poised to be placed on the Endangered Species List. Over-fishing, loss of nesting sites and pollution due to human population growth, together with chronic oil spills, are the main causes of their ongoing, rapid decline. The National Aviary is a participant in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) African Penguin Species Survival Plan, a carefully monitored breeding program that seeks to preserve healthy, genetically diverse populations of African penguins.

A National Aviary Press Release: