Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Penguin Update from Dr. Boersma


Long-term studies allow us to understand a penguin’s world. For example, penguin #997 is at least 25 years old and probably more than 30. Every time I see him I’m thrilled that he is alive and well. He was banded on October 16, 1983 as an adult in one of our marked nests and we see him regularly:
· In 1984, 997 returned to the nest where he was banded. He also spent time in a nearby nest possibly hedging his bets. However, neither his nests nor his good looks attracted a mate that year.
· In 1985, he moved to another nest where a female joined him, and they raised a chick.
· In 1986, he was alone.
· In 1990, he moved to a burrow nest, a female joined him, and they raised a chick.
· In 1991, a new female joined him, and on October 11 she laid an egg. The next day his mate from the previous year returned, kicked out the new female, sat on the egg, and eight days later laid her own eggs. The female sat on all three eggs, but late in incubation the burrow collapsed, and the egg laid by the interloping female was lost. A fight in December to take over the burrow killed their two newly hatched chicks.
· The next year, 1992, was without drama and the pair raised two chicks. In their eight years together they raised nine chicks, an impressive record!
· In 1999, another female mated with 997, but they were unsuccessful.
· In October 2008, 997 was back wandering among nests within 30 feet of where he's been for the last 25 years. He spent a couple of days trying to dig a burrow, then moved into a bush nest where I took his picture.

In the 25 years we have been watching 997, he has been in 16 different nests. It has been 11 years since he raised a chick. Apparently, he tries hard to attract females, but often his nests have little shade. Unless he gets a well-shaded nest, he is likely to continue wandering among his nests without any females giving him a second look. But he still looks handsome to me!

Because of your generous donations, we have been able to track penguins such as 997 for over 25 years. Having long-term information about the lives of penguins will enable us to better help them combat the looming challenges ahead: the potential development of an anchovy fishery, drastic increases in tourism, and over-fishing.

Please consider making a donation today. The penguins need advocates and in these difficult financial times we need your help more than ever to follow the lives of penguins. Your support allows us to fund student researchers both in the field and back in Seattle as they track penguins and buy research equipment such as satellite tags, scales, and bands. Join us as we educate the next generation of conservation biologists and learn about the world of penguins.

Donate online:
Go to

, click on the "Support Biology" link and then select "Additional Funds." Scroll down to the "Friends of the Penguins" link. If you prefer to donate through the Wildlife Conservation Fund, you may do it online at

getinvolved/donations; please direct funds to "The Penguin Project".

Donate by mail:
To donate by check, make it payable to "The Penguin Project" and mail it to

The Penguin Project
Kincaid 23, Box 351800
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195

Thank you in advance for your support!


P. Dee Boersma, Ph.D
University of Washington
Seattle, Washington

NOTE from wiinterrr, your hostess:

As a student, I realize that for most other penguin students, this time of the year is fairly tight on one's krill or herring budget, but I am making a pledge to support Dr. Boersma as soon as financial aid arrives in January. For those of you who are able to spend, however judiciously now, please think about supporting this very worthy cause. The more we know about penguins, the better we can help them stay alive and thrive. After all, my feathered friends, what a pitiful place the world would be without penguins.

(Cross posted to Penguinology blog)

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