Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Conversation With Dee Boersma

SOCIALIZING Dee Boersma, shown in 1996, has been studying Magellanic penguins in Argentina since 1982.

A Conversation With Dee Boersma
William Conway/Wildlife Conservation Society


A. In the early 1980s, a Japanese company went to the Argentine government and said, “We’d like a concession to harvest your penguins and turn them into oil, protein and gloves.” There was a public outcry. This was during a military dictatorship when dissidents were being thrown into the ocean from airplanes. And yet people said, “We object to having our penguins harvested.”

So the military regime did what any government facing a controversy might do — they said, “Let’s have a study.” Not long after that, the Wildlife Conservation Society entered into an agreement with the Argentine Office of Tourism and the Province of Chubut to set up a research project at Punta Tombo where there was the world’s largest colony of Magellanic penguins. Once that agreement was in place, it was the end of the concession idea.

I came to Punta Tombo in 1982 to determine how many penguins were actually there. I didn’t think I’d be doing a long-term study of them. But we didn’t know how long wild penguins lived. With time, we discovered that penguins are quite long-lived, 30 years, more. So I’ve ended up going to Argentina every year since 1982.


A. I’m a kind of census taker of the 200,000 breeding pairs of penguins at Punta Tombo. I track who is at home, who gets to mate, where the penguins go for the meals, their health, their behaviors.

On a typical day, I’ll get up before dawn. The penguins rise early, but they spend the morning calling to each other from their nests and socializing. Around 8 or 9, they head down to the beach. Once they’re out, we check the nests, see who’s stayed behind, weigh the babies, band them, and we put satellite tags on some birds so we can track them while they’re swimming.

I’m interested in where they go. Through the tagging we’ve been able to show that in the last decade, the birds are swimming about 25 miles further in search of food. They’re having trouble finding enough fish to eat. That costs a penguin energy and time while their mate is sitting on the egg, starving. So when they return to the nest to relieve their mate, they arrive in poorer body condition. And then, the mates also have to go farther to find food.

These penguins are now laying eggs on the average three days later in the season then they did a decade ago. That means that the chicks may leave for sea at more inopportune times, when fish may not be close to the colony. Many will not survive to come back and breed. The Punta Tombo colony has declined 22 percent since 1987. That’s a lot. This type of penguin is considered near-threatened. Of the 17 different penguin species, 12 are suffering rapid decreases in numbers.

Q. Why is this decline occurring among the Magellanic penguins?

A. Changes in the availability and abundance of prey. And we think that’s due to both climate change and exploitation of the penguins’ food sources by commercial fisheries.

There’s also oil pollution in the South Atlantic. There’s dumping from ships. For a while in the 1980s, 80 percent of the dead penguins found along the coast were covered in oil. In 1994, we were able to get the Chubut authorities to move the oil tanker lanes further from the coast. That’s helped.

But as the birds take these longer migrations in search of food, they sometimes find themselves outside of Chubut’s protected areas. Some of our tagged penguins have been located as far north as Brazil. When they’re in the waters of northern Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil, where the laws against oil dumping are less enforced, they’re encountering problems.


A. We’re seeing that conservation areas that we’ve set up to protect penguins are not going to work. If we’re going have penguins, I think we are going to have to do ocean zoning and try to manage people.

I also think that our information about the penguins’ migratory patterns means we must try to anticipate the next place they might move to. Right now they are on public land in Punta Tombo, but as the birds look for new food sources, they might end up colonizing beaches that are privately owned. What then?

The big thing is that penguins are showing us that climate change has already happened. The birds are trying to adapt. But evolution is not fast enough to allow them to do that, over the long term.


A. Because people can identify with penguins. These birds are curious. They walk upright. They dress well. They’re highly social. They know their neighbors. They mate. And some of them even get divorced.


A. When we do our census, we find individuals with mates other than those they had the year before — and they are living within meters of the old mates. That’s more likely to happen, by the way, if the couple has failed at raising a chick; they’ll move to another mate.

And yet, we find other pairs with great fidelity. We have one pair that stayed together for 16 years. What’s really interesting is that if the penguins keep the same mate, they raise more chicks. Fidelity gives them greater evolutionary success.

P. Dee Boersma, a University of Washington conservation biologist, is the Jane Goodall of penguins. As director of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Penguin Project, Dr. Boersma, 62, has spent the last quarter of a century studying the behaviors of some 40,000 Magellanic penguins, inhabitants of one stretch of beach in southern Argentina. We spoke at last month’s American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Chicago and again later by telephone. An edited version of the interview follows.

Story and image courtesy of the NY Times @

Display Rocks and TN Penguins

Display Rocks Are Getting Tennessee Aquarium's Penguins Excited

By Thom Benson

Chattanooga, TN - Lately when senior aviculturist Amy Graves brings the big bowl of iced-down capelin into Penguins’ Rock, she notices a few of the birds are interested in something more than fish. "Some of the macaronis like Hercules will take the ice cubes out of the pan and try to build a nest with them," Graves said. "And there’s been more calling and swinging of heads lately." It is apparent that at least some of the Tennessee Aquarium’s penguins are ready for romance.

April marks the beginning of the breeding season for gentoos and macaronis. These cold-climate birds get seasonal cues from the changing light cycle throughout the year. The longer daylight hours during spring bring out the amorous behavior shown by Hercules and other penguins at the Aquarium.

Last year was the first time nesting materials were given to these penguins. Many of them were inexperienced, younger birds and others may have not have fully adjusted to the switch to the Northern Hemisphere light cycle. "We’re a little more hopeful that we’ll see eggs and potentially see chicks this year versus last year," said Loribeth Aldrich, one of the Aquarium’s aviculturists. "This year all of the birds appear to be on the same page biologically after having gone through a complete molt together.”

This year there may be more magic in the "magic rocks" because of something one of the penguin keepers noted on a recent Aquarium trip to Antarctica. "We went to five different gentoo rookeries and they all had different nests," said Kevin Calhoon, the Aquarium’s assistant curator of forests. "Many of the nests had jagged rocks that were actually piled quite high." So rather than use the smooth river rocks that were placed in the exhibit last year, Aquarium staffers went to a local quarry to collect nearly 1,000 pounds of limestone rocks. "We chose these rocks because they look more like what the penguins have in the wild," reports Aldrich. "These rocks are a little more angular and we’re hoping that these will stack together a lot better and the penguins will be able to build their nests up higher."

These new rocks will be introduced to the exhibit on April 1st and according to Graves, no stone will go unturned when love is in the air. "It will immediately stimulate a breeding response," said Graves. "The birds will instantly start selecting rocks, carrying them to their nesting spots and even squabbling over the best rocks as pair bonding begins."

The rocks will stay on exhibit through most of the summer. While some signs point to successful courtship this season, many factors can affect breeding success. Eggs may or may not be fertile, first-time parents might not have fully developed paternal instincts and newborn chicks must defy high infant mortality rates.

Even though future sighting of penguin babies is uncertain, Tennessee Aquarium visitors will be treated to lots of activity and drama between the penguin pairs over the upcoming months. "It’s a lot of fun," said Calhoon. "You’ll see the penguins carrying the rocks around in their mouth like a dog with a ball. You’ll see them fighting over a rock that seems to have a higher value than the rest and stealing rocks from each other. And there are all kinds of calling and sounds to go with a very visual experience."

Penguin Breeding Information:
As nesting material, small rocks are added to the exhibit that acts as a marker for the beginning of breeding season. The act of building a nest encourages a strong bond between the male and female penguins. End results of successful nest building are large flattened piles of carefully chosen rocks.

Once paired, the penguins will further strengthen their bond by:
Macaroni penguins will do lots of mutual preening and vocalizing in conjunction with head swinging and wing flapping.
Gentoo penguins will be more conservative with their displays. They stand next to each other and vocalize with necks stretched tall.
Egg incubation: Macaroni – 33-39 days. Gentoo – 36-41 days
Both penguin species lay two eggs approximately 4 days apart. Penguin chicks hatch without help from parents. It usually takes 24-48 hours for a chick to fully hatch.
Both penguins share in parental responsibilities by taking turns on the nest keeping the chick warm and regurgitating food as needed. Parents sit on the chick for approximately 15 days until the chick is able to maintain its own body heat. Chicks remain at or around nest until fledging. Penguins fledge (or become independent from parents) between 65-75 days.

Watch the penguins on the Tennessee Aquarium’s live webcam at: www.tnaqua.org.

The Tennessee Aquarium inspires wonder and appreciation for the natural world. Admission is $21.95 per adult and $14.95 per child, ages 3-12. Each ticket purchased helps support Aquarium conservation programs. The IMAX® 3D Theater is next door to the Aquarium. Ticket prices are $8.50 per adult and $6.00 per child. Aquarium/IMAX combo tickets are $27.95 for adults and $19.95 for children. Excursions aboard the new River Gorge Explorer depart daily into “Tennessee’s Grand Canyon.” Cruise tickets are $29.00 per adult and $21.50 per child (3-12). Advance tickets may be purchased online at www.tnaqua.org or by phone at 1-800-262-0695. The Aquarium, located on the banks of the Tennessee River in Chattanooga, is a non-profit organization. Open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas, the Aquarium and IMAX are accessible to people with disabilities.

Story and image courtesy of Zoo and Aquarium Visitor @

Image of the Day

Originally uploaded by son_gismo

Monday, March 30, 2009

Image of the Day

Over 1500 Dead Penguins Found In Chile

Over 1500 Dead Penguins Found In Chile

March 29, 2009 at 10:55pm

Authorities in Chile are investigating what caused the death of nearly 15 hundred penguins found in a southern bay.The dead birds were discovered yesterday on a beach more than 12 hundred miles north of Antarctica.Navy officials say experts from nearby Austral University are working to determine what killed the penguins.They did not know immediately where the penguins were from and sayIt's not unusual for some penguin species to migrate thousands of miles.

Video here at source, Fox News @


Written by LA TERCERA
Sunday, 29 March 2009

In just the past few days, hundreds of dead magellanic penguins (Spheniscus Magellanicus) have washed ashore in Chile’s Region XI, the daily La Tercera reported Sunday.

So far experts are in the dark about what’s killing the sea birds, more than 800 of which have been found on the beaches of Las Niñas and Los Piojos near Queule.

Rodrigo Zambrano, a maritime official in Valdivia (Region XIV), said the penguins do not appear to be poisoned in any way. He said magellanic penguins are periodically killed by fishing boat nets, but never by the hundreds.

Four of the bird carcasses have been sent to Valdivia’s Universidad Austral for testing.

Magellanic penguins are native to the waters around Chile and Argentina. Although they are not an endangered species, they are vulnerable to oil spills and – according to a penguin expert from the University of Washington – climate change.

Rising temperatures are displacing fish, forcing magellanic penguins to swim an average of 25 miles further from their nests in search of food, professor Dee Boersma discovered. The extra “commute” is also shortening their breeding period, she found.

SOURCE: LA TERCERA of the Patagonia Times@



1,500 penguins found dead in Chilean bay
03/30/2009 | 12:02 AM

SANTIAGO, Chile – Chilean authorities say they are investigating what caused the deaths of nearly 1,500 penguins found in a southern bay.

They say the dead birds were found Saturday at Caleta Queule, more than 1,240 miles (2,000 kilometers) north of Antarctica.

Navy Lt. Rodrigo Zambrano says experts from the nearby University of Valdivia are working to determine what killed the penguins. They did not know immediately where the penguins were from.

University veterinarian Roberto Schlatter tells state television that experts also are trying to establish the penguins' ages and their species.

It is not unusual for some penguin species to migrate thousands of miles. - AP

Source: GMA News @

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Image of the Day

Chase Me
Originally uploaded by coastwalker
Hamburg, Tierpark Hagenbeck

Woodland Park Zoo Exhibit Nears Completion

Zoo’s new penguin exhibit almost ready
March 28th, 2009

We got a behind-the-scenes look at the new Humboldt penguin exhibit at Woodland Park Zoo a few days ago. Construction is mostly complete, and they’re finishing up some signage and plantings in anticipation of its public opening May 2. The penguins, brought in from a number of zoos, are in quarantine behind the exhibit, and are slowly being introduced to penguins outside their own groups before jumping into their new home.

The exhibit is modeled after penguin habitat in Punta San Juan, Peru.

Guano (bird excrement) is harvested in Punta San Juan for use as fertilizer. And while it’s good to reuse something like that, the penguins make their nests in piles of guano, so over-harvesting is harming their habitat. So signs around the exhibit, and stacked bags of (fake) guano will teach visitors about the importance of maintaining penguins’ habitat. There’s also a lot of very realistic looking hand-painted “guano” all over the rocks. These seagulls were adding their own authenticity to the exhibit while we were there.

Right in front of the window is a large rock that almost touches the surface of the water. That’s for the penguins to “porpoise” over the top, almost like a slide. Fun for them, fun for us to watch. And there are two very deep portholes that extend into the tank, so kids (or adults) can sit inside them and feel like they’re right in the tank with the birds.

On the north side is where the tide comes rushing into the pool every minute or two.

On the south end, a crumbling old wall with a large hole in it symbolizes the need for newer infrastructure in Punta San Juan to keep predators away from the birds.

The exhibit includes dozens of built-in nesting dens, more than the number of bird pairs that will live there, so they can move around and find the one they like the best. Penguin foot prints are embedded into the ground on the far right, along with bits of nesting material such as seaweed and shells.

The ground outside the tank is pervious concrete, so rain soaks into the ground. The pool is heated by geothermal energy tapped from 300 feet below the earth’s surface (check out KING 5 environmental reporter Gary Chittim’s report on this heating and cooling method).

Kids will be able to climb into a small boat, climb over an old anchor, and possibly get wet if they get too close to a “blow hole” that will periodically spurt water into the air.

Story and images courtesy of Phinneywood@

Penguins in peril

This isn't Madagascar: Penguins in peril

Nesting in the sparkling sand, preening on the rocks and darting through the waters, the penguins on the southern tip of Africa are the ultimate crowd-pleaser. But crisis looms.

Short of food, exposed to predators and the African sun, their numbers are plummeting. But salvation may rest in a simple man-made solution -- housing for penguins.

Dotting the shore of this penguin colony near the Cape of Good Hope are 200 nesting boxes, each big enough to house a happy family of parents, eggs and chicks.

The experiment has already worked well on a more distant penguin island in South African waters, and wildlife rangers are eagerly watching to see whether the boxes recently installed on Boulders Beach will prove equally attractive.

"You look at the penguins and think they have a lovely time in sunny South Africa, but it's a struggle," says Monique Ruthenberg, a ranger with the Table Mountain National Park in Cape Town, where summer temperatures recently hit 40 C.

Park authorities installed the boxes -- made of a fiberglass mix, shaped like a burrow and dug into the sand to mimic the real nests -- at Boulders Beach as part of desperate efforts to protect the dwindling populations of African penguins.

It has been a losing struggle. Numbers of the cute creatures have plummeted from around three million in the 1930s to just 120,000 because of overfishing and pollution.

Some experts fear the species will die out in a decade, and are particularly alarmed at the prospect of global warming increasing the number of scorching days, raising water temperatures and altering fish migration patterns.

The Boulders Beach colony has fallen 30% from a peak of 3,900 birds in 2005 to 2,600 and some of the island colonies have suffered calamitous declines of 50%.

The African penguin is the only one to inhabit the African continent. It has shorter feathers than the Antarctic birds because it doesn't face such cold and is just 50 cm tall.

About 600,000 tourists a year visit Boulders Beach, which boasts that it is the only place in the world where people can swim with penguins.

The real lifeHappy Feetare unfazed by the attention and, apart from a few who were killed while snoozing under cars, don't seem to have suffered from their contact with humans.

There is a constant risk from pollution. The last big oil spill was in 2000, when 20,000 penguins were trucked about 750 km from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth to allow workers time to clean up.

But even in years with no big accidents, the South African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds has to rescue and rehabilitate hundreds of birds whose feathers are covered in oil illegally dumped at sea.

The population fall continues, especially on the more remote Dyer Island where numbers have plummeted from 23,000 breeding pairs in the early 1970s to just 1,500 pairs. Penguins normally mate for life.

"It's horrible," Wilfred Chivell, chairman of the Dyer Island Conservation Trust, who blames bad fishing management for a dwindling supply of sardines and pilchards, the penguins' main food.

Such is the competition for fish that Ruthenberg says young seals attack penguins to rip the fish from their bellies.

Gulls prey on the eggs and young chicks, often working as a team; the nesting penguins leave their eggs to chase away the invaders, while another gull sneaks in behind, she says.

Eggs lie abandoned in the sand because the parents have taken to the water to escape the heat. Once a nesting pair abandons its eggs, other penguins often follow suit.

So volunteers calling themselves the iKapa Honorary Rangers asked the public to sponsor nesting boxes for $20 each. They initially planned 100 boxes but this was doubled thanks to a $2,000 (U. S.) donation from the Species Survival Plan-- a co-operation program linking members of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums in the U. S.

The nesting boxes are meant to give the penguins an edge -- shelter from the heat and a better defence against egg-stealing gulls -- and the 1,000 boxes on the more remote Dyer Island have proven popular, with 80% occupancy.

Story courtesy of the Tribune @

Penguins - and police - protected

Penguins - and police - protected

A fairy penguin tale...penguins will get protection at North Head, such as that shown in the sign at Little Manly.
Photo: Rick Stevens

Lisa Carty, NSW Political Editor
March 29, 2009

PENGUINS and bandicoots as well as police will be protected as part of revised plans for a controversial $21 million redevelopment at Manly's North Head.

New plans for the extensive revamp of the Australian Institute of Police Management will be announced today.

Original plans drew heavy criticism from some who feared the development would harm wildlife, but NSW Planning Minister Kristina Keneally and Federal Home Affairs Minister Bob Debus said the famed fairy penguin colony would be protected and police would get modern facilities.

"There would be no arguments that North Head is one of Sydney and Australia's most iconic and environmentally valuable sites, that police should have the best available facilities possible and that the Government should continue to support and create jobs," Ms Keneally said.

"Feedback received during a 66-day public exhibition led to significant amendments to the original proposal.

"The new development will now be located in the southern portion of the site away from areas critical to the threatened local populations of the fairy penguin and the long-nosed bandicoot.

"In particular, the local bandicoot population will now have an additional 470 square metres of foraging area."

Mr Debus said the facilities did not exceed two storeys.

Story courtesy of SMH.COM.AU@


Saturday, March 28, 2009

This Week's Pencognito!

Please visit Jen and all the pengies HERE

Image of the Day

A b&w study of a Chinstrap Penguin on Half Moon Island, Antarctica.

Humboldt penguins get a new (temporary) home

Humboldt penguins get a new (temporary) home
11:20 AM, March 27, 2009

The Tierpark Hagenbeck zoo in Hamburg, Germany, is in the process of rebuilding the exhibit that houses its Humboldt penguin residents. That's great news for the penguins, but it does leave them temporarily "homeless" -- they're shown here being moved into their temporary digs in the zoo's kangaroo enclosure.

Humboldt penguins are native to the Pacific coast of South America, where their numbers are in decline, partly due to humans' overfishing of anchoveta, the fish the birds depend on for food. Another reason for their population decline is also related to human activity: Humboldt penguins lay their eggs in guano, which is used in fertilizer. Overharvesting of guano means fewer penguin eggs hatch.

Humboldt penguins are named after the German naturalist Alexander von Humboldt.

The Tierpark Hagenbeck is known for being the world's first "barless zoo," employing moats to surround the exhibits rather than cages to house its animals.

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Marcus Brandt / European Pressphoto Agency

Story courtesy of the LA Times @

Friday, March 27, 2009

Image of the Day

Southern Rockhopper Penguin
(Eudyptes chrysocome)

Photographed inside the Penguin & Puffin Coast (Lichtenstein Penguin Cove section) of the St. Louis Zoo, St. Louis, Missouri.

Friday Videos!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Image of the Day

King Penguins at Gold Harbour

African Penguins Arrive at Charleston, SC

Penguins visit aquarium
Flightless South American birds arrive from California to delight of Charleston's children
By Edward C. Fennell (Contact)
The Journal
Thursday, March 26, 2009

Drew Bobey's pen darted across the pages of her tiny notebook as educators at the S.C. Aquarium spoke about the new penguin exhibit.

"I really like penguins because they are fun," said Drew, who is 9 and a Daniel Island Elementary School student. She and many other children who last week saw the four Magellanic penguins of the Penguin Planet exhibit pronounced them to be entertaining. At least one teacher is convinced that penguins also are educational.

Asked what she put in her notebook, Drew thumbed through the pages and said she wrote that the four penguins are males and two of them are brothers. She also wrote "how old each one is, and that there's no snow in the tank," she said.

Clint Ball, the aquarium's senior biologist, said one penguin is 2, one is 15 and the other two are believed to each be 12-16 years old. Penguins can live 25-30 years, he said.

The four Magellanic penguins represent a threatened species living in the wild in the Falkland Islands and off the coasts of Chile and Argentina. They have distinctive stripes on their chests, stand about 2 feet tall and weigh about 10 pounds. They eat as much as a pound of food per day, Ball said.

Ball said these penguins were hatched at SeaWorld San Diego and are used to being handled, fed and admired by people. The penguins in Charleston don't have names, just numbers. The birds are flightless and flew to Charleston by airliner. After a year in Charleston, they will return to their 40-member colony out West.

Penguins are favorites because they are energetic and playful.

"A SeaWorld keeper compared them to cats," Ball said.

As one penguin swam continuously and the other three remained out of the water, Ball noted they "seem to be very comfortable and are having a good time. They are showing zero signs of stress," he said.

He said that although penguins are best known as occupants of the Antarctic, this species actually prefers milder temperatures. When the weather heats up in Charleston, the penguins will remain comfortable in their climate-controlled exhibit area with its saltwater pond and rocks, Ball said.

Michelle Martin, whose second-graders were among Memminger Elementary School kids visiting the exhibit, said the class completed a study of penguins just two weeks earlier. It is just a coincidence, she said, that Penguin Planet opened at the aquarium. But when she heard that it was coming, she said, she knew it would be the perfect way to extend and enhance the study project.

"They loved learning about penguins. That was their favorite thing all year. It's perfect timing," Martin said.

K-Syah Anderson, 8, one of the Memminger second-graders, said she likes penguins "because they are cute. Some got stripes, and they eat fish," she said.

Her classmate, Kierra Wellington, also 8, said the penguins made her laugh. "They waddle, and one sneezed on me," she added.

Aquarium staffers guided children through the exhibit, let them watch a penguin gulping down small fish whole and gave the eager kids a chore.

"Who wants to put vitamins inside the fish," an educator asked before guiding them to a table where it could be done. The penguins need daily vitamins, and when they are inserted into the fish they love, the penguins never even know the pills are there, Ball explained.

Tyrek Epps, 8, and some of his friends grimaced as they clutched wet, cold fish.

Drew took down all Ball said about penguins in her notebook and said she's helping with chores around the house in hopes the family "can go see them in the Antarctic."

Drew wants to be a zookeeper someday and is getting some practice by helping raise a menagerie at home: "Two dogs, two fish, two frogs and three snails," she said.

The aquarium has become her second home. "This is like my 20th time here," she said. "I got to come to a sleepover," she said, referring to an aquarium program that invites groups to bring blankets and pillows and camp out next to the fish tanks and other exhibits.

"I really didn't go to sleep," Drew confided. "I watched the sharks all night."

Story and images courtesy of the Post and Courier @

penguin chick hatches at Aquarium of the Americas

For 1st time in 8 years, a penguin chick hatches at Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans

By Associated Press

9:33 AM CDT, March 25, 2009
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The New Orleans aquarium's first penguin chick in eight years is still too fluffy to swim. But it ventured outside its nest for the first time this week.

Audubon Aquarium of the Americas spokeswoman Meghan Calhoun announced the African penguin's hatching on Wednesday.

She says its first excursion was Monday. The chick hatched Feb. 21. The announcement was delayed so aquarium staff could be sure all was well with baby and parents Voodoo and Amquel.

The same pair hatched a chick in 2001. It is called Snake.

The species is classed as "vulnerable" — over the past century, the number of breeding pairs has fallen from 1.5 million to 63,000. Reasons have included egg thefts, oil spills and, increasingly, shortages of the sardines and anchovies on which they feed.

Story courtesy of WREG-TV @

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Image of the Day

Originally uploaded by Donna & Antti
Penguins at the Melbourne Aquarium

Monday, March 23, 2009

Image of the Day

getting wet
Originally uploaded by zoom images
an Adelie penguin runs from a wave

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Image of the Day

Other times while in antarctica you will find yourself on various hikes or walks, whichever you prefer really, and you may happen to come across a small gathering of penguins such as this one. They were also out for a leisurely stroll and we happened to walk by.

Little penguins released in Australia

Little penguins North and South are released in Australia
11:47 AM, March 20, 2009

Two little penguins that received care at the wildlife hospital at Australia's Taronga Zoo were released recently. North (above) and South, as veterinary nurses dubbed them, were found on beaches near Sydney and brought to Taronga for treatment.

Taronga spokeswoman Danielle McGill said it wasn't unusual for the zoo to take in stray penguins during the birds' molting season, when they lose their feathers -- and their waterproofness. "They can't go in the water at that time," McGill told the Sydney Morning Herald. "They have to find somewhere around the beach that is relatively quiet, where there are not a lot of people or dogs. As you can imagine, around the Sydney area that is a pretty rare find."

The zoo generally takes in more than 30 penguins each year during molting season.

South's release went off without a hitch -- the penguin dived straight into the water at Curl Curl beach near Sydney and didn't look back. North "needed a lot of coaxing" from veterinary nurse Amy Twentyman, according to the Morning Herald.

Little penguins are, naturally, the smallest of the penguin species. They're also known as fairy penguins, blue penguins, and kororā in the Maori language.

More photos of the release after the jump:

-- Lindsay Barnett

1st, 4th, 5th, 6th photos: Brendon Thorne / Getty Images
2nd, 3rd photos: Greg Wood / AFP/Getty Images

Story courtesy of the LA Times @

***There's a very neat video on site, too. ****

German star keen to help penguins

A German-led film crew films Elisabeth Lanz (far left), playing marine biologist Julia, for a television movie, at Victory beach at Okia Reserve on Otago Peninsula, yesterday. Photo by Peter Mcintosh.

German star keen to help penguins

By Rebecca Fox on Sat, 21 Mar 2009

Elisabeth Lanz and co-star Jorg Schuttauf are acting in Out of Ashes, a television movie based on United States novelist Emilie Richard's work, for German network ZDF.

The programme was being filmed in Akaroa and Dunedin, including Victory beach at Okia Reserve and Smaills beach, by German production company Polyphon International.

Out of Ashes will air in a Sunday-night primetime slot to more than 7 million viewers.

The Yellow Eyed Penguin Trust had given the production company permission to film in the reserve, but with strict guidelines to protect the penguins and their habitat.

Trust chief executive Sue Murray said no filming was allowed near nesting sites and no real penguins were filmed.

The company had wanted a genuine penguin habitat for the movie, which was based around a marine biologist (Lanz) who runs away from a violent marriage to start a new life in New Zealand, where she gets to work with yellow-eyed penguins.

She finds an injured penguin and helps save its life.

Mrs Murray said she had so far been impressed with how environmentally conscious the film crew had been.

It had constructed its own hide and brought fake penguins as props.

The company was paying fees for filming in the reserve and the money would go back into conservation efforts in the reserve, Mrs Murray said.

It was not yet known how much the filming would raise.

Lanz, who plays zoo veterinarian Dr Mertens in a popular German show, said while she was used to filming with animals such as elephants and giraffes it was in a controlled zoo environment, so it was completely different filming "in the wild" in New Zealand.

Yesterday, the crew was filming one sand dune over from a large male sea lion.

"It is my big adventure.

''This is real life.

''It's fantastic."

Her role as Dr Mertens meant she was often asked to promote wildlife causes and was keen to try to raise the yellow-eyed penguin's profile back home, she said.

"I'd like to make some connections."

Story courtesy of the Otago Daily Times @


Mystery deaths strike zoo's penguin colony

Mystery deaths strike zoo's penguin colony

4:00AM Saturday Mar 21, 2009
By Eloise Gibson

The zoo's penguins appeared to have too much oil in their coats. Photo / Supplied

Auckland Zoo is down to one blue penguin after a series of deaths that has baffled keepers.

Four of the zoo's six penguins have died of a mysterious ailment in the past six months.

A fifth penguin drowned in a bucket while trying to escape from an emergency enclosure keepers made to keep it safe.

Zoo veterinarian John Potter said the zoo would like more penguins to replace Ani, Henry, Lucy, Pluto and MacGonagal.

The last penguin, Coral, was lonely, and the enclosure would be improved in an effort to make her and her new companions more comfortable.

But he said staff were "stumped" about what had happened to the other penguins. Tests of their swimming water had not found any possible cause of the problem.

The trouble started in April when keepers noticed the penguins had unusually oily coats and did not seem to want to swim.

Too much oil makes penguins' coats absorb water and they can risk freezing to death.

It is not known if they were staying out of the water because of the oil in their coats or because there was something wrong with the water in their enclosure.

Over the next six months, the penguins were hand-fed and washed to try to encourage them back in the water. But four died, each of a different ailment.

"We tend to think it was probably because the immune systems of these birds were affected," said Mr Potter.

The birds had been in the same enclosure since 2002 with no problems - it was possible there had been a problem with the water that only birds could identify.

In December, puzzled keepers moved the last two penguins to a small enclosure so they could to keep a closer watch on them.

It was there that the fifth penguin drowned, after it fell into a bucket of water that had been used to prop up its enclosure during an escape attempt.

"It was just one of those things you wouldn't think about in advance - a penguin drowning," said Mr Potter.

Blue penguins are not endangered in the wild and Mr Potter said the zoo hoped to get more from animal rescue centres once the enclosure had been upgraded.

They would be birds that had suffered an injury that restricted their ability to feed in the wild.

Image and story courtesy of the New Zealand Herald @

This Week's Pencognito!

Please visit Jen and all the pengies HERE

Friday, March 20, 2009

Friday Videos!

A very tongue-in-cheek Friday. :)

Image of the Day

Hello Penguins!

Hello Penguins!

There are some new cuties in town, and we’re not talking about CofC freshmen. Four Magellanic penguins have arrived to stay (for a while) at the South Carolina Aquarium and will be ready to meet the public this Saturday, March 21. The penguins’ home here in Charleston, entitled “Penguin Planet,” is a small habitat and tank where the four male warm-water penguins can be seen swimming and bobbing happily around.

The penguins flew into Charleston from their old home at Sea World in San Diego late February and have spent the past few weeks getting nicely acclimated.
A nearly threatened species, the Magellanic penguins are relatively small, ranging from 24-28 inches tall, and average around 8-11 lbs. Though they normally eat a variety of small fish and invertebrates, their plats des jours at the aquarium consist of capelin and herring. They are native to the Falkland Islands off the coast of Chile and Argentina and usually can be found in colonies.

That being said, even though two of the four new residents of Penguin Planet are brothers, we’re sure they are missing their families. They seem to love attention though, so go pay them some the next time you visit the aquarium. You won’t be able to peel yourself away from the glass. —Hadley Lyman

PS--the newbies also have a cam for viewing. You'll need Microsoft Silverlight, but otherwise, you get a neat little view of some happy pengies.


Photos by Joshua Curry.
Story courtesy of the Charleston City Paper @

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Image of the Day

Originally uploaded by jonathan_prout
A macaroni swims by

Royal zoo marks 100th anniversary

Royal zoo marks 100th anniversary

Celebrations have taken place to mark the 100th anniversary of the society which owns Edinburgh Zoo and the Highland Wildlife Park.

The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland was set up by Edinburgh lawyer Thomas Gillespie in 1909.

It took four years for him to achieve his aim of opening a zoo in Scotland.

The Edinburgh attraction still retains many of the original enclosures designed by town planner Patrick Geddes.

Former Reporting Scotland presenter Mary Marquis feeds the penguins

A gannet was the first exhibit, but the zoo went on to be best known for its penguins.

The three king penguins which arrived in 1914 were the first to be seen outside their homeland, and the hatching of the zoo's first penguin chick in 1919 led to international notoriety.

The daily penguin parade dates back to 1951, when a zoo keeper accidentally left a gate open and the penguins had to be guided back into their enclosure after a stroll round the zoo.

Follow source link for video:


(wiinterrr's note: this is a demonstration on how NOT to feed a penguin!)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Image of the Day

King Penguin
Originally uploaded by Shadow Creepr
... and don't give me any lip about it!


Monday, March 16, 2009

A Totally Organic Penguin

Popular organic sock and apparel manufacturer, Maggies's Organics has released the second stuff animal in their Maggie's Menagerie collection – a Penguin.

Just like their Sock Monkey, Maggie's Penguin is made from excess fabric and irregulars and stuffed with reclaimed polyester mill scrap helping keep factory waste from landfills.

The Penguin’s embroidered eyes and securely sewn on hat make it safe for all ages.

Maggie's new penguin is made in the USA by workers at Opportunity Threads, a 100% worker-owned cooperative in Morganton, North Carolina.

Like the Sock Monkey, Maggie's new Penguin is a creative way to help keep jobs in the USA and prevent scraps from everyday mill operation from end up in landfills. The concept of creating products like these cute stuff animals from these types of materials and resources is innovative and speaks to the character of the company itself.

Maggie's latest stuffed animal the Penguin is available directly from the company for $20.

Report and image courtesy of Sustainable is Good@

Purchase the penguin @