Thursday, April 30, 2009

Rescued Penguins from Namibian Oil Spill

Namibian oil spill victims given sanctuary

April 29 2009 at 09:27AM

By Jenny Gross

Neatly queued as if in a school assembly, seven bleary-eyed penguins look up at the veterinarian as he speaks.

While most of the 129 penguins rescued from the Namibian oil spill are on the fast road to recovery in a Cape Town rehabilitation centre, seven are weak and require additional medication before they can be released, says Tertius Gous, the veterinarian for the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (Sanccob).

Namibia's Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources has collected 154 oiled African penguins off islands spanning about 150km of coastline since the oil spill on April 8.

Story by IOL @

A penguin rejects his 'bride'

Pugwash the penguin rejects his 'bride'
29 April 2009

THREE'S company... Pugwash the penguin is at the centre of a love triangle as new "bride" Shadow (right) competes with "married older woman" Malibu (left) for his affections.
A jack-the-lad jackass penguin at Combe Martin Wildlife and Dinosaur Park has found himself in the middle of a tangled love triangle with too many women on his flippers!

With enough twists and turns to suit any soap scriptwriter, Pugwash the South African Blackfoot, has gone from lonely bachelor to the enclosure Casanova, much to the annoyance of his male rivals.

The Gazette reported three years ago how park staff were searching for an unattached female for "Puggy" after his mate of eight years died.

The appeal went nationwide following our story and Puggy even got to flirt with Fern Britton on the This Morning show, but no potential mate was ever found.

Finally a potential mate was found, but no sooner had Shadow, the "mail order bride" arrived from Living Coasts at Paignton, than the two-timing jackass began an "affair" with the "wife" of his best friend!

Such behaviour might be all too common among humans, but is nearly unheard of for penguins, since they form close bonded pairs and mate for life... usually.

Penguin and sea lion keeper Nikki Morrison explained the tangled web:

"The loan was done and we hoped Pugwash and Shadow would pair up and it would be as simple as that," she said.

"Unfortunately... while he was on his own, another couple - Scampi and Malibu - let him spend a lot of time with them.

"Although Malibu had shown a little interest towards him, we thought they were just good friends, but when the new one arrived she became very defensive of Puggy - and now spends more time with him than her own partner."

The younger newcomer, however, has not been put off by the "older woman" and seems determined to wrap her reluctant "fiance" around her little flipper.

"Those two are still hanging out together and we think she is just waiting for her opportunity!" said Nikki.

"They have definitely shown an interest in each other but at the moment Pugwash is loving the attention of both girls.

"Normally there's only one love interest for a penguin because they are monogamous. There would be cause for concern if Malibu began neglecting Scampi, but she seems to be keeping them both happy at the moment.

"And as long as the penguins are happy, we're happy!"

It is hoped when Shadow becomes fully mature next year, events will resolve themselves naturally.

But Pugwash has never been one to follow convention - he was hand reared and spent a long time convinced he was human before keepers could integrate him with the rest of the penguins.

Story/image courtesy of Devon 24@

The case of the missing penguin

Mysterious case of the missing penguin goes freezing cold

Yoke Wong April 27th, 2009 News

There’s still no sign of the LSE penguin which vanished on March 7th, but LSE students remain convinced King’s students are behind the theft.

Aled Dilwyn Fisher, General Secretary of the LSE Students’ Union said: “Our initial investigative expedition down to Kings did not yield results but we are continuing our efforts on many fronts.”

King’s College has denied the charge and Tony Sebastian, VP Student Activities and Facilities of King’s College Student Union (KCLSU) said: “Other UL colleges have been named, but King’s seems to be singled out as the main perpetrator, possibly due to location.

”From King’s own internal investigation, there was no evidence that Kings students were involved, but we will continue to monitor the situation and work with LSE to resolve this amicably and hopefully see an end to the issue.

”Internally, KCL have asked their students to come forward if they know anything at all about the missing statue, and have let their students and LSE know that if King’s students were responsible they would be dealt with accordingly,” he added.

Fisher said, expressing his hope of recovering the penguin: “If the penguin does not return soon, we will need to rethink our strategy. But we will never give up hope of it returning.”

Others were not so optimistic. Chi Huynh, a final year law undergraduate at LSE said: “I don’t think it will ever be found.”

The LSE penguin is a 3ft high sculpture weighing 60lb. It was donated by Canadian philanthropist and LSE alumnus Louis Odette and stood outside the Economists’ Bookshop.

Story courtesy of London Student @
Image courtesy of Charlie Beckett @

Protecting penguins

Photo: Paul Mannix

Protecting penguins
Why the U.S. would protect penguins under the Endagered Species Act.
Tue, Apr 28 2009 at 5:14 PM EST

There are wild no penguins in the United States. But many penguin species are in danger -- some dramatically -- and all populations are dropping fast. What to do, what to do?

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this week proposed protecting seven penguin species under the Endangered Species Act. Six would be declared "threatened" species, while the seventh, the African penguin, would be listed as "endangered." The action follows a lawsuit, and resulting court order, to review the penguins' need for protection.

To be honest, this move would do little to directly protect penguins in the wild, although it would "raise awareness about the species and could give the U.S. leverage in international negotiations to protect them from fishing, habitat loss, development and other threats," according to a report from The Associated Press.

But this decision also does something else: it insulates the United States from further protecting the penguins by declaring that global warming is not responsible for the penguins' decline. Although FWS said it "considered information on longer term climate change impacts to these species," it officially declared that the relevant threats to the penguins include "commercial fishing, competition for prey, habitat loss, disease, and predation."

Of course, many environmental groups disagree. The Center for Biological Diversity, which first filed the lawsuit responsible for this week's decision, points out that "abnormally warm ocean temperatures and diminished sea ice have wreaked havoc on the penguins' foods supply." The CBD also maintains its position that the Endangered Species Act "has an important role to play in reducing greenhouse gas pollution by compelling federal agencies to look at the impact of the emissions generated by their activities on listed species and to adopt solutions to reduce them."

Of course, the Interior Department has already made it clear that it will not allow the Endangered Species Act to be used to regulate emissions and global warming.

Story and image courtesy of Mother Earth News @
Story by John Platt. This article originally appeared in Plenty in December 2008.

Image of the Day

diving penguin
Originally uploaded by ghooky

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Image of the Day

Penguins In Love
Originally uploaded by stevesteve8383

Bionic penguins fly through water … and air

Having missed World Penguin Day (April 25) due to circumstances beyond my control, I still must make up for not posting more on the Adelies and the beginning of their annual migration. Enjoy today's posts and know that your fearless leader will not miss this event next year (thank you Outlook!) :)

Please enjoy these pictures of the bionic penguins, as posted about previously!


Photos courtesy of @

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Image of the Day

Originally uploaded by eserehtM

Are You a Penguin Artist? Woodland Zoo Wants to Know

‘Penguins on the March’ call for artists
Posted by Geeky Swedes on April 27th, 2009

Glitzy, bedazzled and dressed up penguins will soon be marching through Seattle. In anticipation of the new Humbolt Penguin exhibit at Woodland Park, the zoo is looking for artists of all ages and artistic talents to help decorate 22-inch fabricated penguins. Applications must be submitted by this Thursday, April 30th. Artists have the month of May to create their penguins before they start “migrating” from the Space Needle through Fremont, Ballard and Greenwood-Phinney to the zoo during the month of June. The Greenwood Collective will be offering free penguin painting workshops.

Story courtesy of My Ballard @


Penguins on the March – Join the Fun!

What: A community art project with migrating Seattle neighborhood exhibits of 3-5 dozen artist-decorated fabricated penguins.

Why: The project spotlights the arts community as it celebrates the new Humboldt penguin exhibit at Woodland Park Zoo. The project will also contribute to funding the zoo’s field conservation projects around the world.

Call for Artists

In anticipation of the new penguin exhibit, Woodland Park Zoo and The Greenwood Collective (shared creative work space) are putting out a call for artists to paint and design fabricated penguins to create a traveling exhibit, “Penguins on the March.” Artists of all ages and experience levels are welcome to sign up starting Friday, April 10th at The Greenwood Collective.


* Call for Artists April 10 – April 30
* Artist details provided May 8
* Penguin painting workshops for amateur artists (free) Month of May
* Penguin art completed May 31
* Launch event at Seattle Space Needle Early June
* Neighborhood migrating displays
Greenwood-Phinney, Ballard and Fremont Month of June
* Auctions
Woodland Park Zoo Jungle Party (invite only) July 10
The Greenwood Collective (open to public) July 10

Information and Artist Applications
Urban Lights Studios (206) 913-2835
Artist submissions to produce a penguin masterpiece, due no later than April 30, are available here:

Paint, embellish and decorate a penguin as a celebration of art and conservation in the community. Your work will be displayed prominently to the public, then auctioned off to benefit Woodland Park Zoo’s field conservation projects around the world. The zoo and The Greenwood Collective will supply the penguin – you supply the creativity.

Story and images courtesy of the Woodland Park Zoo@

Monday, April 27, 2009

Image of the Day (Sunday and today)

Uploaded on January 2, 2008 by yidnaMU

Uploaded on January 17, 2008 by headlessmonk

Black, white and having a ball

April 26, 2009

Black, white and having a ball

On a secluded, windswept beach, Steve McKenna discovers why small is beautiful.

As cormorants, petrels and oystercatchers criss-cross the blue skies above, the first penguin sighting on the ground sparks coos from my female friends. Initially the cute little creature seems to be frozen still underneath a thorny bush, then, looking all of a sudden startled by the human attention, he begins waddling away, flapping his wings.

Soon enough, a dozen of his comrades appear from their burrowed holes and start to squawk an ear-piercing tune that has us clasping our ears.

"I was hoping they'd sing like the penguins in Happy Feet," one of my friends says.

We are at the Reserva Provincial Punta Tombo, a small nature reserve on Argentina's Atlantic coast.

While there are countless places for penguin-spotting in Patagonia, Punta Tombo prides itself on having the world's biggest colony outside Antarctica. Between September and April, up to 250,000 Magellanic penguins flock here to breed.

The blending of warm-water currents from the north and cold from the south means the sea here is awash with nutrients, which in turn attract a plethora of sea life.

Southern right whales, orcas, dolphins, elephant seals and sea lions are frequently sighted, especially at the world-famous Peninsula Valdes, which is further up the coast. But down at secluded Punta Tombo the penguins are the stars.

Smaller than Antarctica's Emperors, the petite black-backed, white-bellied Magellanics are named after legendary Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, whose 15th-century circumnavigation of the globe brought him into contact with these peculiar birds for the first time.

Unlike Antarctica, Punta Tombo doesn't have icebergs the size of skyscrapers as a backdrop. It's surrounded by the bleak Patagonian steppe, which hosts some eye-catching wildlife including armadillos, foxes and, especially, guanacos.

This parched landscape sweeps down to a long, curving beach and a number of tiny bays where most of the penguins congregate, granting glorious photo opportunities.

When we stroll down, thousands of them are bunched together, mingling, staring into space, scratching each other and play-fighting. This stunning sight provokes some dewy-eyed stares from my friends.

A few penguins break away from the huddle and leap into the water. It's not clear whether they're just having a playful swim or hunting, as hake, anchovy and squid top their list of favourite food.

Although you're not allowed to disturb them here, there are numerous other spots where you can literally walk among them.

We learn a salient lesson, though don't get too close. Despite their sweet reputation and diminutive stature the male, slighter larger than the female, is on average 70 centimetres tall and weighs five kilograms they have sharp beaks and are prepared to nip at you if they feel provoked.

When I amble a little too close to one and his chick, he leaps up and shoos me away with his snapping mouth. They're predictably protective of their nests and newborns but arguably the best time to come to Punta Tombo is in November, when eggs are hatched and the fledgling penguins ratchet up the cute factor even more.

In April, when the autumn chill arrives in Patagonia, the colony heads north to warmer Brazilian climes.

Article and image courtesy of SMH @

Galapagos Penguins Need ‘Condos’ With Global Warming

Galapagos Penguins Need ‘Condos’ With Global Warming (Update1)

By Jeremy van Loon

April 27 (Bloomberg) -- The Galapagos Islands, renowned for rare animals that inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, may have to create special shelters to save species from global warming and rising sea levels.

Scientists who met there last week decided the indigenous penguin needs “condos” built in cooler, higher areas to nest more safely, Giuseppe Di Carlo, marine climate-change manager at Conservation International, said in an interview. Shadier bushes would protect plants and animals such as birds and tortoises that produce too many of the same sex in hotter weather.

“The challenge that we’re facing is a high rate of extinction,” Di Carlo said from the conference. “This will have consequences for the islands’ human population as the economy here is based almost entirely on tourism and fishing.”

The Ecuadorean territory 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) west of Guayaquil in the Pacific is one of the few places on Earth where tropical and cold-water species of fish and animals co- exist, helped by a meeting of sea currents, including the Humboldt. Climate and species scientists who gathered there 150 years after Darwin published “On the Origin of Species” are studying how to help the islands adapt to climate change.

The protected archipelago, named after its giant tortoises, was placed by UNESCO on its list of threatened world heritage sites last June due to growing tourism, illegal immigration from the mainland and the arrival of non-endemic species like rats and goats that adversely affect native flora and fauna. Rats eat rare bird and reptile eggs on the Galapagos, scientists say.

Harriet the Giant Tortoise

The Galapagos, comprised of more than 200 islands, islets and rock outcrops, include unique wildlife such as the only lizard that can live in the sea and the giant land tortoise, one of which, Harriet, was collected by Darwin and died in 2006 at the Australia Zoo in Queensland at age 176.

When Darwin, aboard the ship the Beagle, visited the Galapagos in 1835, he collected specimens such as finches that led to his theory that species evolve by natural selection. Pink iguanas unseen by Darwin when he visited the islands were identified as a new species, scientists said in January.

Because of their remote location, the Galapagos may be more affected by climate change. The El Nino effect, a warming of equatorial waters in the eastern Pacific that affects ocean currents and climate around the world, may become more intense and variable with global warming, Di Carlo said.

Rising Sea Levels

Ice melting near the poles may cause sea levels to rise at least 50 centimeters (20 inches) by the end of this century, according to scientific findings presented to the United Nations in Copenhagen last month. The world is likely to warm by 2.5 degrees Celsius (4.5 degrees Fahrenheit) in the same period, Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of a UN panel that coordinates climate-science research, said.

Galapagos animals most threatened include the flightless cormorant, whose nests are susceptible to flooding from higher sea levels, the giant tortoise, marine iguana and Galapagos penguin, according to Conservation International, an environment group based in Washington.

The penguin, spheniscus mendiculus, is the only one of its kind to live on the equator due to the cool water and air temperatures from ocean currents. One of the smallest penguins, it weighs about 2.5 kilograms (5.5 pounds), measuring about 50 centimeters and eats sardines and mullet.

Penguins Prefer Cooler Mating

Penguins are very “fussy” about where they live and are unwilling to move their nests, Di Carlo said. Scientists say they want to provide them with more shady homes of stone or concrete because the birds mate better in cooler temperatures.

An indication of how animals and plants in the Galapagos will respond to climate change is provided by El Nino. If the phenomenon becomes stronger, that may harm the fish population, hurting fishermen’s livelihoods and damaging the tourism industry, which relies on diving. Fishing and tourism make up 90 percent of the Galapagos economy.

The Galapagos have a population of about 40,000 people, a 40-fold gain in the past half-century. Isabella, the largest island, is still being formed by volcanic activity, and most of the rocky archipelago was designated a national park by Ecuador.

The islands attract tour boats, regulated by Ecuador, and areas to walk and visit on Isabella and elsewhere are restricted by park authorities to protect flora and fauna that include the blue-footed boobie.

Other island ecosystems affected by human-caused changes include Macquarie, a United Nations World Heritage Site, where plants and animals introduced by humans as a source of food have overrun native species.

Island chains such as the Maldives, popular with tourists and honeymooners, also are in danger of being submerged by rising waters in the coming years amid climate change.

Story and image courtesy of Bloomberg @

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Image of the Day

Penguins at the Wildlife Park - Picture by Mike Wade - Isle of Man Newspapers

Bits and bits

Romance at Penguins’ Rock, The Tennessee Aquarium:

The Aquarium’s gentoos and macaronis have been busy since April 1st. That’s when the penguins were given the “magic rocks” they use for nesting materials. You'll see these busy birds re-arranging rocks, calling loudly and squabbling over mates. Will this be the year for a penguin baby or two? See the courtship behavior in person or via the Penguins’ Rock live webcam: HERE

Story and image courtesy of TN Aquarium newsletter; April 22, 2009


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Image of the Day

Originally uploaded by |2ic
Happy Earth Day!!!!

Ready for class? Penguins 101 is here:


Magellanic Penguins--Info and State of Existence

Magellanic Penguins – Warm Water Species
A Declining Penguin of Coastal Argentina and Chile

© Rosemary Drisdelle

There are an estimated 1,300,000 breeding pairs of Magellanic Penguins, Spheniscus magellanicus, in the world, and they all breed in southern South America and the Falkland Islands. They are one of just a handful of penguin species that live year round in warmer waters north of Antarctica.

Magellanic Penguin Life Cycle

Magellanic Penguins spend their lives at sea, except when they come to shore to breed, returning to the same place with the same mate each year:

1. Magellanic Penguins begin to breed at four or five years of age. They gather at breeding colonies in late September (spring in the southern hemisphere).
2. Adults excavate or repair burrows. Where burrowing isn’t possible, they nest under rocks or vegetation or in shallow scrapes.
3. The female lays two eggs and remains with the eggs for two to three weeks while the male feeds at sea. Then the male takes over and the female goes to sea.
4. Eggs hatch after about forty days. Though the first chick to hatch may receive preferential treatment from the parents, both chicks often survive if there is sufficient food available. The parents continue to switch places, alternately looking after the chicks and foraging at sea.
5. Chicks first leave the nest after five weeks and begin feeding themselves at sea after nine or ten weeks.
6. After the breeding season is over the adults moult.
7. Adults return to sea to hunt until they breed again.

Facts About Magellanic Penguins

Like the Strait of Magellan, Magellanic Penguins get their common name from explorer Ferdinand Magellan, who came across the penguins in 1519:

* The birds forage over a distance of 500 km (about 300 miles) from the colony, diving 50 metres (165 feet), and sometimes going twice that depth. They often hunt in groups.
* They eat small ocean organisms, typically crustaceans, squid, and fish.
* Fully grown Magellanic Penguins are the largest of the warm water penguins: about 70 cm tall (a little over two feet). They weigh about 4 kg (9 lb).
* In order to let off excess heat in warmer weather, these penguins go bald around the eyes, then regrow feathers for winter.
* Magellanic penguins are shy birds, but they become accustomed to people if they see them often enough.

Threats to Magellanic Penguins

Sea lions, leopard seals, and orcas eat Magellanic penguins, while gulls, petrels and skuas take eggs and chicks. Pressures from human activities, however, represent a greater threat to this species, which is listed as “near threatened” on the IUCN Red List of Species because of an apparent rapid decline in numbers:

* Offshore drilling for petroleum products causes oil slicks that foul the birds’ feathers and make it harder to stay warm.
* Overfishing threatens some colonies, particularly those that forage around the Falkland Islands.
* Chilean crab fisherman harvest the birds to use as bait in traps.
* Birds are often accidentally caught and drowned in fishing nets.
* Some colonies are prey to foxes, rats, cats, and human egg collectors.

Conservation efforts have begun—there are still lots of Magellanic penguins in the world and if we act now to reverse the threats that are causing decline we can save this species from possible extinction.

Story and image courtesy of Suite 101@

Aviary works to save African Penguins--kudos!

More than 100 African penguins were evacuated from coastal islands of Namibia after an oil spill and sent to South Africa where an international team is cleaning off the oil and caring for them.

Steve Sarro, left, the National Aviary's director of animal programs, tends to an African penguin that was impacted by an oil spill off the coast of Namibia.

Aviary part of international penguin rescue effort

By The Tribune-Review Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The National Aviary on the North Side is part of an international team working to save African penguins affected by an oil spill along the southern Namibian coastline, the aviary announced today.

Steve Sarro, the Aviary's director of animal programs, is helping to clean 129 penguins covered in oil. One of the Aviary's most characteristic ambassadors is the African penguin. By Memorial Day, the Aviary plans to open Penguin Point, an exhibit that will house about a dozen African penguins.

According to the South African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds, the penguins are being evacuated to South Africa for rehabilitation. The foundation said the source of the oil spill hasn't been identified and is making the water around the coastal islands of Mercury, Ichaboe, Halifax and Possession frothy with foam and patchy with oil.

African penguins are listed as 'vulnerable' to extinction, with 27,000 breeding pairs left, down from 4 million at the turn of the century, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and National Resources.

Story and images courtesy of TribLive News @

Those Madagascar Penguins

'Penguins' is doing swimmingly

The Nickelodeon TV series spawned by the 'Madagascar' movies is already the No. 3 show among kids 2 to 11.
By Scott Collins
April 22, 2009

One of the most popular characters in "The Penguins of Madagascar" is Julien, a lemur who has somehow deluded himself into believing he is a king, against much evidence to the contrary.

As Hollywood has long known, there can be a jackpot in animals behaving badly. In just a few weeks, the animated "Penguins of Madagascar" has claimed a royal perch at Viacom's Nickelodeon, the cable network famous for "SpongeBob SquarePants" and "iCarly."

Spun off from the popular "Madagascar" feature movies, the TV show premiered last month and was the most-watched in Nickelodeon's history, with 6.1 million total viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research. The fact that the premiere aired right after the Kids' Choice Awards didn't hurt. But the ratings have held up well since then, with 4.9 million viewers for Saturday's episode, the first in its regular morning time slot. Season to date, "Penguins of Madagascar" is already the No. 3 show on basic cable among children 2 to 11, tied with "SpongeBob" and Nickelodeon's "Mighty B!"

"We knew it was going to be a hit; we didn't know it was going to be quite this big a hit," said Brown Johnson, Nickelodeon's president of animation.

"Penguins of Madagascar" is the latest in a line of penguin-themed entertainment, including the documentary "March of the Penguins," and the animated films "Happy Feet" and "Surf's Up."

Indeed, "Penguins of Madagascar" is shaping up as another powerful weapon in Nickelodeon's ongoing battle with Disney Channel, home of the formidable "Hannah Montana," for the hearts and minds of America's children. At the moment, who's winning depends on how you look at it. Last week, for example, Nickelodeon was the most-watched cable network among total viewers, averaging 2.3 million for the entire day. But Disney was No. 1 in prime time among children 2 to 11.

The key in this case was Nickelodeon's ability to leverage a corporate relationship with DreamWorks Animation, which produced the "Madagascar" movies. The studio has a movie distribution deal with Paramount Pictures, another arm of the Viacom empire, which helped facilitate the Nickelodeon pact, according to a network spokeswoman. "Penguins" could thus be thought of as one of the rare instances in which corporate "synergy" has performed as advertised.

"We got a lot of buzz from the money DreamWorks spent advertising the 'Madagascar' movies," Johnson said.

But she added that she thought audiences were responding to the quality of the series in its own right, and she singled out the writing, which expands what were essentially supporting characters in the films. Another key, as with "SpongeBob," is that the series is plenty silly but still has enough sophisticated humor for parents to want to watch with their children.

Each episode is written and storyboarded in the U.S. but then packed off to India and South Korea for animation work. The entire process takes about 20 months per episode, Johnson said.

It's a gamble that seems to have paid off so far. Underscoring their confidence in the series, executives have ordered 52 episodes, of which 13 have aired, Johnson said. Nickelodeon is also developing a TV series based on DreamWorks' "Kung Fu Panda," although that has not progressed beyond the pilot stage.

As for "Penguins," its franchise could last for a while. DreamWorks is planning another "Madagascar" movie in 2012. But Nickelodeon, meanwhile, isn't taking anything for granted. "There's never a formula for a hit television series," Johnson said.

Courtesy of the LA Times@,0,4921011.story

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

5 Questions for Penguin Scientist Ron Naveen

5 Questions for Penguin Scientist Ron Naveen
— By Laura McClure | Tue April 21, 2009 2:48 PM PST
—Photo courtesy Ron Naveen

Guest-blogging scientist Ron Naveen is the president of Oceanites, Inc., and the principal investigator of the Antarctic Site Inventory project. In honor of Earth Day, Julia Whitty and I asked him to answer a few questions about his work. He wrote the following dispatch from last week's Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting in Baltimore, MD.

Mother Jones: What are you doing right now?

Here I am, The Penguin Guy, ensconced in the chrome-glass expanse of the Baltimore Convention Center for my second week of this year's Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting. I've been going to The Ice for 25 years and to these meetings for 15, keeping an up-close and personal eye on the world's diplomatic community and whether it's truly conserving Antarctica for all future generations.

I count penguins. That's my life's work. The penguin population changes that my colleagues from The Fagan Lab at the University of Maryland and I detect—and our underlying analyses of how the warming Antarctic Peninsula affects these changes—will provide clues as to what's going to happen to those of us living in more temperate latitudes, decades down the line. My penguins, as the proverb goes, are "canaries in the cage"—or, more accurately, "canaries in The Ice"—sending us signals we shouldn't ignore.

So from my perspective, it's totally necessary to see how my work, and the work of so many other scientists, gets translated, used, and possibly abused in these meetings.

Nearly 400 diplomats, Antarctic program managers, logistics experts, and polar scientists from 47 countries attended this year, probably no more than a third of whom have ever visited Antarctica. All business is done in four official languages—English, Spanish, French, and Russian—with smatterings of Dutch, Norwegian, Swedish, Czech, Portuguese, and other languages filling the air during coffee breaks.

At the State Department in Washington, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton officially and formally opened the Meeting with the heads of Antarctic Treaty Delegations and a potpourri of foreign ministers.

Many of us streamed the Secretary's opening session on our laptops at the Treaty's Committee On Environmental Protection meeting here in Baltimore. Clinton created quite a splash with her pitch that, with respect to dealing with climate change, the "US is back!" That US representatives were essentially muzzled for eight years from pursuing climate-related matters in these meetings is astonishing, but hey, that was the last administration and, happily, a new era has dawned. See clips and quotes on The Oceanites Feed site I maintain.

MJ: What interesting discovery from your research do you pull out at cocktail parties to wow non-scientists?

One definite cocktail "stopper" is that you can't study penguins without becoming an expert in penguin guano! Observing the color of the penguins' guano clues us to their protein prospects and what's available in the maritime food market. If their guano is pink, they're eating krill; if the guano is white, fish and invertebrates are the meal du jour; and if green, they're fasting or starving, and ejecting stomach bile.

The broader cocktail theme is that everything depends on what I describe as "The Four Vitals" necessary for continued existence, whether you're a penguin, a human, or a small invertebrate: Is there food to eat? Is there a sufficient home or breeding territory? Can progeny successfully pass genes to the next generation? And is the climate satisfactory? A species' long-term survival is put at risk if any one of these factors goes out of sync.

The Antarctica Peninsula's rising temperature and plummeting Adélie penguin population brings these Four Vitals to sharp focus, especially with respect to food and weather. Since 1957, the temperature's risen by 5° F (2.8° C) year-round, and by 9° F (5° C) in winter. As an example of the downward trend throughout the Peninsula, the Adélies at my Petermann Island study site have declined 60 percent since Louis Gain, the biologist on Jean-Baptiste Charcot's 2d French Antarctic Expedition, first counted them in 1909.

In recent decades, Peninsula Adélies have shown a proclivity for krill, the small, finger-sized, and protein-laden shrimp I call "The Power Lunch" of the Antarctic. By contrast, from fossil and eggshell isotope records, we know that, eons ago, Peninsula Adélies used to eat both fish and krill. So, now, as my research teams and I see many of our Adélies spewing more and more white guano, perhaps we're witnessing another shift in Adélie penguin feeding priorities.

MJ: What issues should the public be hearing more about from scientists?

The public should be hearing MORE from scientists, they should be meeting MORE scientists, and scientists generally should be doing MORE and MORE, as a matter of public relations, to "spread the word" about their findings.

I recently heard the statistic that more than 70 percent of the American public has never met a scientist! And, for sure, if one watches cable TV, it's clear that science is often misrepresented and skewed, and that the scientific method isn't understood.

We pose and test hypotheses and we don't publish a whit unless we can demonstrate to our editors, with a 90 percent or 95 percent confidence, that our results are what they are. But what we publish today is, simply, the current news. Tomorrow there will be new theories and hypotheses to test, new results and theories to report, and science will march forward in different and more complicated ways, explaining better how Earth's biological and physical processes actually work.

MJ: Where are the bottlenecks between science & policy?

A young attendee at a recent penguin talk of mine worried: "Where will the penguins go when all the ice melts?"

As well, we might ask where we humans will go when coastlines are flooded, major cities are underwater, and our Four Vitals are harder to sustain.

The young generation gets it. Unfortunately, the bottlenecks lie with the older, crustier crowd that's supposed to be translating our work into policy. For example, the science community has done an amazing job laying out what is known about climate change, the 4th Report of the Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change being the most notable example. The evidence is clear: We humans have caused a spike in temperature that, potentially, will have devastating effects in the years to come. Carbon emissions worldwide must be substantially and radically reduced, else we potentially go the way of dinosaurs.

We shape policy by putting data and papers on the table for the politicians—the best available science, and now it's time for them to take these products forward constructively. Could be a carbon tax. Could be a stringent cap-and-trade system. And certainly, it means a revised, international climate agreement to take us forward. That's why Hillary's remarks opening this Antarctic Treaty Meeting are, and were, so well received. Yes, the US Is Back! And it's time to move the international community forward on this issue, the major issue of our time, our new 21st Century.

Being at the Antarctic Treaty Meeting is to network among politicians/diplomats, scientists, the environmental community, and user communities (e.g. the tourism industry) to find common ground that will, indeed—and hopefully, conserve Antarctica—perhaps, even, the planet—for future generations.

MJ: What keeps you up at night?

That we're leaving Earth in worse shape and hastening our and the penguins' demise. Yes, those beautiful little animals are sending us signals about what we're doing, in the longer term, to ruin our own home.

In our post-truth, post-factual age of instant gratification, these penguins make me think. They should make all of us think, though humankind, as yet, isn't primed to absorb the messages they're sending about an inevitably hotter future. There are no clear, black-and-white solutions averting the potential consequences of global warming and we shouldn't delude ourselves into thinking we can steer the planet.

But, because we think, because we conjure the future, we can't help but realize that we can make better choices, though we have no guarantees we can change outcomes.

On the front lines with the penguins, I therefore wonder whether we'll ever think seriously about generations and changed lifestyles, rather than wobbling about seeking the immediate pleasures of our present, flickering moments of life.

Ron Naveen is the President of Oceanites, Inc., a US-based nonprofit science and education organization, and the principal investigator of the Antarctic Site Inventory project. He is the author of Waiting To Fly (New York, William Morrow, 1999) and The Oceanites Site Guide To The Antarctic Peninsula, 2d Edition (Chevy Chase, Oceanites, 2005), and the lead author/photographer of Wild Ice: Antarctic Journeys (Washington, Smithsonian Press, 1990).

Article appears courtesy of Mother Jones@

Image of the Day

The Woodland Park Zoo will open its new penguin exhibt Saturday, May 3.

The Humboldt penguins will be in a new, 17,000-square-foot space that is intended to look like the Peru's desert coast.

There will also be underwater views.

Story and image courtesy of The Big Blog@

Aquarium of Americas Hatches First Baby Chick

Aquarium of Americas Hatches First Baby Chick

March 25, 2009

(New Orleans, LA)- It’s not your average Easter chick! Just in time for Spring, Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans announces the hatching of a penguin chick – the first penguin hatchling in eight years.

The young African penguin (Spheniscus demersus) chick hatched on February 21st, 2009. Voodoo and Amquel are the proud parents of the new youngster, whose gender will be determined once the chick gets a bit larger.

“With their numbers decreasing as much as 90% in the past century, the hatching of this African penguin chick is especially significant,” says aviculturist Tom Dyer. “We are so happy to spread the good news!”

Audubon Aquarium of the Americas has a total of 21 penguins: 18 African penguins and 3 Rockhopper penguins. The African penguins are found on the southwestern coast of Africa. They can grow to approximately 26 inches and can weigh between 4-11 pounds. Both parents take turns feeding and caring for the chick.

Although the chick will stay in the nest for with its parents for some time, lucky visitors may be able to sneak a glimpse of it from time to time. And guests can always look for Snake, the most recent offspring of Voodoo and Amquel, hatching out in 2001. All the penguins can be viewed in the Living in Water Gallery located on the second floor of Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, located at the foot of Canal Street in New Orleans.

Audubon Aquarium of the Americas is a facility of the not-for-profit Audubon Nature Institute in New Orleans, which also operates Audubon Zoo, Entergy IMAX® Theatre, Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species, Freeport-McMoRan Audubon Species Survival Center, Wilderness Park, Woldenberg Riverfront Park, Audubon Park, Audubon Louisiana Nature Center (closed due to hurricane damage) and the newly opened Audubon Insectarium. For more information about Audubon Nature Institute, its public attractions and conservation efforts, please visit

Article and images courtesy of ABC News, Channel 26@

Special thanks for the heads up to "Nothing But Penguins" --see link below.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Image of the Day

molting penguin
Originally uploaded by TeresaM3kids
No matter how bad your day is going, thank your stars you aren't a molting penguin. ;-)

Korea Takes Charge of Antarctic Penguin Sanctuary

Gentoo penguins in the Penguin Village /Courtesy of Korea Polar Research Institute

Korea Takes Charge of Antarctic Penguin Sanctuary

A habitat for penguins in the Antarctic Peninsula, at the northernmost tip of Antarctica, has been designated as a special protected area by the Korean government. Dubbed "Penguin Village," the habitat measures around 1 sq. km and is located around 2 km southeast of Korea's King Sejong Antarctic research station.

The Environment Ministry said an application submitted by the government to designate Penguin Village as a special protected area was accepted during the 32nd Antarctic Treaty Talks in the U.S. on Friday. The ministry on Sunday said Korea will play a leading role in environmental protection projects there.

Fourteen countries including the U.S. and U.K. manage 70 areas as special protected zones, with Penguin Village the 71st. Korea will limit access of outsiders to Penguin Village, monitor ecological changes there and engage in other measures to protect the habitat.

An Environment Ministry official said outsiders must pass through the King Sejong Antarctic research center to access Penguin Village, so the research station will inspect passes and other requirements for entry.

Penguin Village is home to 14 different types of birds and 88 species of plants, making it a particularly diverse part of Antarctica.

Story courtesy of The Chosen Ilbo @

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Interesting new blog

Uploaded on March 24, 2009
by offpainting

I found a very intriguing penguin blog where very admirable folks are doing great things for penguins:HERE . Three cheers for the wonderful people working at the penguin hospital!!!


Image of the Day

KING penguin
Originally uploaded by eserehtM

Penguins in love

Your morning adorable: Penguins in love
10:37 AM, April 18, 2009


Squawk and Milou, two male penguins at New York's Central Park Zoo, began to exhibit courtship behavior in 2004 -- but they were hardly the first same-sex penguin couple the zoo had seen.

Another pair, male chinstrap penguins named Roy and Silo, refused the companionship of female penguins but seemed determined to become penguin parents anyway. The New York Times reported:

At one time, the two seemed so desperate to incubate an egg together that they put a rock in their nest and sat on it, keeping it warm in the folds of their abdomens, said their chief keeper, Rob Gramzay. Finally, he gave them a fertile egg that needed care to hatch. Things went perfectly. Roy and Silo sat on it for the typical 34 days until a chick, Tango, was born. For the next two and a half months they raised Tango, keeping her warm and feeding her food from their beaks until she could go out into the world on her own. Mr. Gramzay is full of praise for them.

''They did a great job,'' he said. He was standing inside the glassed-in penguin exhibit, where Roy and Silo had just finished lunch. Penguins usually like a swim after they eat, and Silo was in the water. Roy had finished his dip and was up on the beach.

The Central Park Zoo has also seen Georgey and Mickey, two female Gentoo penguins who also tried to incubate eggs together.

And a Chinese zoo came under fire late last year for removing a same-sex penguin couple from the rest of the colony after they repeatedly tried to replace male-and-female penguin couples' eggs with rocks, taking the eggs to incubate themselves. When visitors complained, zookeepers gave the couple two eggs that had been laid by another penguin. Result? One keeper reported that the two 3-year-old males "have turned out to be the best parents in the whole zoo," according to the Daily Mail.

--Lindsay Barnett

Photo courtesy of Nicole Bengiveno / New York Times
Story courtesy of LA Times@


Aquarium penguin pair have gay old time


LOVEBIRDS: Gay penguin couple Molly and Guido are both boys but that has not stopped them from setting up a nest together.

WHEN they find that special bird that ticks all the right boxes, penguins mate for life and that is exactly what Eastern Cape duo Molly and Guido have done.

The only difference between them and the other devoted African penguin pairs at the East London Aquarium is that they are both male, Molly having been named when it was originally assumed, incorrectly, that he was female.

But being of the same sex has not stopped Molly and Guido from setting up nest together and even attempting to incubate an egg – albeit an adopted one.

Enthralled staff said this was the first time a same-sex couple has ever paired up at the Esplanade aquarium and that the duo had become something of a tourist attraction ever since word got out that they are gay.

“Molly and Guido paired up in February 2008 and we only realised they were both male when we had all the penguins sexed later in the year,” said aquarium curator Siani Tinley.

“We found it fascinating and started watching them more closely and realised that although they had built a nest together and took turns looking after it like other pairs do, no eggs had been laid.”

Molly arrived at the aquarium after being washed up on Cove Rock Beach in 2006, while Guido was born at the aquarium five years ago, but once they hooked up, the two became inseparable.

To make their union complete, aquarium staff placed a fake egg in their nest earlier this year, which the loved-up birds incubated for two weeks.

“We gave them the fake egg just to see their response and then, when another breeding pair kicked out one of their eggs, we put it under Molly and Guido – it was an opportunity for us to see how nature adapts,” said Tinley

Unfortunately the egg was found outside the pair‘s nest a couple of weeks later.

When Weekend Post visited the aquarium, the two lovebirds were mingling with the rest of the colony, but soon waddled off to their cosy nest where they happily huddled side-by-side.

Story courtesy of The Weekend Post@

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Image of the Day

African Penguins
Originally uploaded by clarissa~
Toledo Zoo Africans

An African Penguin's First Swim at the Mystic Aquarium

Mystic Aquarium Trainer Sarah Misslin Takes An African Penguin For It's First Swim

By Becky Giantonio

Mystic, CT - Mystic Aquarium & Institute for Exploration’s newest African penguin chick is all grown up and has the swimming skills to prove it! This morning, the chick took its first swim in the waters of the Roger Tory Peterson Penguin Exhibit and was introduced to the public for the first time.

The chick, whom many watched grow on the aquarium’s live Web cam, is 78 days old today. It is fully weaned and ready to begin its acclimation to the exhibit and aquarium’s colony of penguins.

“The first step is learning to swim,” said Laurie Macha, supervisor of penguins and pinnipeds at Mystic Aquarium & Institute for Exploration. “While penguin chicks tend to float very well, they must learn to dive and navigate using their wings and feet. Chicks usually learn these skills within a day, but until then, they pop to the surface quickly!”

The chick was hesitant to go into the water at first, but after being carefully guided in by a penguin trainer, it took off, swimming around the exhibit and eventually finding its way back to the exhibit’s dry areas.
The chick was also introduced to a few of the colony’s more docile birds and will slowly be introduced to the aquarium’s other penguins to establish its place within the colony.

By the end of April, the chick will be on exhibit a few hours each day. The hours guests can see the chick will be posted on

About Sea Research Foundation, Inc.
Mystic Aquarium, Institute for Exploration and Immersion Presents are divisions of Sea Research Foundation, Inc., a private, non-profit, charitable organization incorporated in the State of Connecticut. The mission of Sea Research is to inspire people to care for and protect our ocean planet through education, research and exploration.

To see Mystic Aquarium's web page on Z&A, go to:

Story and images courtesy of Zoo and Aquarium Visitor@

Unusual penguins in EC aquarium

Unusual penguins in EC aquarium


AN UNUSUAL love story is playing itself out between two African penguins at an Eastern Cape aquarium.

It is the first time a gay pair has set up nest at the East London tourist attraction.

Molly and Guido are like any other penguin couple who mate for life – except that both are boys.

They spend most of their time together ever since hooking up just over a year ago and love to move from nest to nest where they huddle contentedly.

Fascinated aquarium staff even gave them an egg to incubate, but the duo are yet to become parents.

Story courtesy of the Weekend Post@

This Week's Pencognito!

Please visit Jen and all the pengies HERE