Sunday, November 29, 2009

Image of the Day

Originally uploaded by chrisray64

Penguins--One Journalist's Adventure

The Penguins of Brazil

Published: November 28, 2009
Rio de Janeiro

Katia Fouquet

Before the Climate Conference, a Weather Report

I HAD set my umbrella and chair near the water in the early hours of what would soon become a perfect summer day. Like most people, I prefer the beach when it is deserted, and I had the place all to myself, no vendors to be seen, parading their sunglasses and suntan oils; no drinks, sandwiches or sweets offered in singing voices. Above all, no kids kicking balls or sand in my face. I held a book and was intent on doing some serious reading.

But then I spotted a small shape emerging from the water. As it landed, I noticed it was flapping its wings feebly. Everything about the little fellow, from the slowness of its movements to its obvious weakness and vulnerability, told me it was not there by choice.

A penguin? On Ipanema Beach? The creature was just a few feet away from me and moving in my direction. For a moment, I had the illusion it was staring back at me. Yes, a penguin. I looked behind me in search of witnesses, sensing that an event of this sort merited a wider audience.

A jogger soon appeared, followed by another. They stopped at my side, amazed, and for a few seconds we remained in silence. The penguin produced a delicate wheezing sound. The first jogger looked at the sea and said, “Poor fellow, so far away from home.” The other guy laughed at this. Our philosopher took offense and, for a while, silence set in again.

The penguin fell to its side. It had swum 2,000 miles, its normal pursuit of anchovies possibly confused by shifting ocean currents and temperatures. It would not survive on the hot sand.
The joggers turned to me, as if waiting for instructions. Then one of them muttered: “I live nearby. I can call for help.”

When the firemen arrived, I felt relieved that the episode would soon be over. To my surprise, however, parting was somewhat painful. The discomfort came from a perception that something out of the ordinary, as yet difficult to grasp, had happened on that beach. “You can come visit it in the zoo,” one of the firemen joked as he noticed my sullen air. That frail, helpless, displaced being had made me suddenly understand our impact on the planet.

This happened some time ago, and it turned out to be only the beginning of an unprecedented penguin migration to Brazil. In the years that followed, dozens and then hundreds of gray-and-white Magellanic penguins appeared on our coasts, coming all the way from Patagonia and the Straits of Magellan. They landed on our sands, exhausted and starving, and were immediately surrounded by children and bikini-clad women. Subjects of curiosity and affection, they often died at the hands of those who tried to help by putting them in refrigerators or walking them on leashes.

But this troubling story doesn’t end there: some of these penguins have since been shipped or even flown back to colder waters further south. And, as I wonder how they feel about this journey, I keep hoping that their plight will help us understand ours.

Edgard Telles Ribeiro is the author of “I Would Have Loved Him if I Had Not Killed Him.”


The African

South African wildlife - African penguin

Posted on: November 28, 2009 12:06 PM, by Ed Yong
Ah, penguins. You just can't help but smile. These animals are found on Boulders Beach near Cape Town, where they come so close to the erected walkways that you could potentially reach out and grab one (if the mood took you and you were an idiot).

The African penguin (Spheniscus demersus) is part of a genus with four species. The last time I saw one of them, it was off the Galapagos Islands (the Galapagos penguin), and the other two members of the group (the Humboldt and Magellanic penguins) are natives of Patagonia. They're commonly known as jackass penguins because of their distinct, braying calls.

If you're wondering why they look so huddled, it's because the beach was being sandblasted by ridiculously strong winds, as if often the case near Cape Town. We only really managed to get a few photos as a time before having to retreat and gently wipe sand off the lens.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Video: The Wild Life of Penguins

Image of the Day

Oscar Oscar!

Oscar the penguin is a favourite with visitors at Drayton Manor Zoo

OSCAR the penguin is a firm favourite among visitors and staff alike at Drayton Manor Zoo.
The six-year-old aquatic ace is always one of the first out of the pool and waiting by the bucket of fish and is much-loved among zoo keepers as a friendly and entertaining member of the penguin colony.
A Humboldt penguin hatched at the Staffordshire zoo in 2003, Oscar had to be hand-reared as his parents had not reared their young in the past.
These days, when he’s not amusing onlookers at home, he can be seen happily flapping in the pages of the Birmingham Mail Charity Trust’s new Animal Magic! calendar.
The 2010 calendar features local pictures of a variety of animals – great and small – meaning there’s something for every animal lover’s wall throughout the year.
Young Oscar is known for being affectionate towards his keepers and likes being picked up and cuddled. In fact, he often prefers to be rather lazy and will let the keeper hand feed him rather than have to swim to collect his meal.
Animal Magic! is available to Mail readers now for just £4.99 plus 72p postage and packaging.
All proceeds go towards voluntary organisations and charities across Greater Birmingham.
The 15-acre Drayton Manor Zoo is home to more than 100 varieties of animals.


Raising awareness one penguin at a time

Penguins Hope to Raise Environmental Awareness

The issue of climate change has come to the forefront over the last few months as the world prepares for the United Nations summit on climate change in Copenhagen next month.  Activists and protesters have taken to rooftops and even smokestacks to raise worldwide awareness for the issue of global warming.  Scientists have also gotten in on the act, releasing reports and studies meant to lead into the U.N. summit and put pressure on governments and world leaders to come to a binding resolution on carbon emissions.  Other groups including schoolchildren and celebrities have gotten involved in programs which also aim to raise awareness and get people talking about the importance of climate change and its potential effects on the planet.
Hundreds of glass fibre penguins are currently on display in Merseyside as part of a city scheme known as the Year of the Environment.  The decorative penguins were painted and decorated by a combination of community groups, schoolchildren and celebrities.  Penguins have become the symbol of the problems climate change has in store for the arctic, which many scientists consider to be the epicenter of the struggle against global warming.  The penguins will be used to increase awareness of the problems of polar ice melting due to global warming.
The penguins will be on display in St. Helens, Liverpool, and Wirral until mid-January.  Paul O’Grady, a radio and television presenter, designed a penguin based on his childhood memories of older women, which are known locally as Mary Ellens.  Programs like this hope to get people around the world talking about what they can do to limit carbon emissions and slow climate change.


Helping Penguins Slideshow

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Little Blue Penguins

Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony – New Zealand
24 November 2009 WRITTEN BY: Chris

oamaru-blue-penguinsThe Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony, located between Christchurch and Dunedin, is home to a group of little blue penguins who come ashore every day around dusk. What started out as a few blue penguins nesting in a rock quarry area at the edge of Oamaru Harbor in the early 1990s is now Oamaru’s largest tourist attraction.

Each day after it gets dark, the birds return home from their day of fishing in the sea. They make their way onto the beach, up a stony ramp and cross into the colony. This routine happens at different times during the year as daylight and nightlight times change. During the summer months, evening viewing is as late as 9:00 pm, while during the winter, the birds arrive home as early as 5:30 pm. The actual number of penguins that arrive ranges from as many as 180 birds in the summer to fewer than 30 in winter. The blue penguin is the smallest species of penguin at about sixteen inches tall and is found on the coastlines of southern Australia and New Zealand.

The Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony has a seated outdoor viewing area where each night they offer a commentary about the blue penguins. The viewing lasts approximately an hour from when the first bird arrives until all the birds return. As the penguins are easily frightened by lots of noise, movement and bright lights, visitors are not allowed to use cameras at all.


Image of the Day

Stages of Molting
Originally uploaded by Angie Bunch
King penguins photographed on South Georgia Island.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Image of the Day

Great wallpaper image!

Pooping Penguin

The Pooping Penguin is one daft looking toy that will definitely have you in stitches. This windup candy dispenser will let loose tasty pellets (use small chocolate bits for the full effect) from his butt, even when he walks! We’re sure kids will love him to bits due to the small presents dropped everywhere he goes. All you need to do is raise the head to insert the candy of your choice, replace the head, shake the penguin to settle its contents, wind him up and see the little critter go! The Pooping Penguin won’t stain your bank account with its $4.99 price point.


PS Yes, I have two of them... hilarious!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Image of the Day

29. Feed me!
Originally uploaded by Bob Lawlor

Image of the Day-yesterday (oops)

"I find penguins at present the only comfort in life. One feels everything in the world so sympathetically ridiculous; one can’t be angry when one looks at a penguin." John Ruskin

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Brit Tourists Stranded in Antarctica Finally Break Free of the Ice

British tourists trapped in ice at Antarctic penguin colony are finally on the move

By Tim Clark
18th November 2009

More than 50 UK tourists stranded on a cruise ship in the Antarctic are finally on the move again after being wedged in sea ice since Friday.

The Russian cruise ship the Kapitan Khlebnikov, a converted icebreaker, was on a voyage to visit a colony of Emperor penguins near Antarctica’s Snow Hill Island, located off the northeastern end of the Antarctic Peninsula, when it became trapped in an area known as the Weddel Sea late last week.

105 tourists - including 51 Britons - were on a two-week expedition to the Antarctic to see a colony of Emperor penguins.

The trip, which can cost in excess of £10,000, is visited by a handful of expeditions each year.

Tour leader Paul Goldstein, of holiday firm Exodus told BBC news: ‘We're currently mobile, we're breaking through some ice, and due to some frankly unprecedented winds and visibility problems and snow, we're a little delayed.

‘These situations do happen when you do this style of holiday. There are not stringent day-to-day itineraries. That's not how we work, and that's what people buy in to.’

During the winter (from May to July) the Antarctic continent doubles in size as an estimated 6.9 million square miles of ocean is covered by sea ice – making the overall frozen landmass even larger than Russia.

The ice takes months to melt back as the summer sun shines once again on the polar continent.

The penguin colony, which was only discovered in 2005, sits near the edge of the ice shelf.

To reach it, visitors have to first fly to the Argentinian city of Ushuaia at the tip of South America before boarding the Kapitan Khlebnikov, which then takes a further four days to reach the colony at Snow Hill.

Although Argentinian rescue authorities were notified of the predicament, the ship was not thought to be in any danger.

The captain of the Kapitan Khlebnikov said that the tourists used the unplanned stop to take a tour of the surrounding area.

Read more:

Chicks Missing--Intruders Trample Penguin Colony

Chicks missing after intruders trample penguin colony
19 Nov, 2009

WARRNAMBOOL'S endangered penguin colony has been jeopardised by trespassers tampering with breeding boxes and trampling burrows on Middle Island.

Two chicks are missing, believed dead, after the trespassing this week.

"These people are placing the little penguin colony at risk," city council environment officer Ian Fitzgibbon said yesterday.

"There are penguin chicks in burrows and nesting boxes and any disturbance can potentially result in penguin deaths."

Trespassers risk a $550 fine. Mr Fitzgibbon said staff noticed the damage when they conducted their fortnightly check on Tuesday.

"Several burrows were trampled on and breeding boxes were pulled out and tampered with," he said.

"We are not sure what happened to the two chicks which were in the trampled burrows.

"They are unaccounted for and it's very likely they are dead. This island is closed for a reason, to protect the colony.

"There's a gate blocking the entrance and big 'no entrance' signs, but unfortunately people still go there without authorisation."

Penguin colony numbers have been steadily increasing after years of attacks by foxes and maurading dogs which almost wiped out the population five years ago.

Volunteers last counted 64 adult penguins and the population is expected to build in coming weeks towards the peak of breeding season. Mr Fitzgibbon said he hoped numbers would reach 100 again.

"It is imperative that people remain off the island to ensure the penguins have the best chance of survival."

People wanting to visit the island can join free guided tours in summer where guides would speak about the penguins and Maremma guard dogs which have been used to ward off predators.

The Maremmas, Eudy and Tula, have been visiting the island almost daily to deter foxes. A female fox was killed in the area on Monday.

"Penguin counts are on a par with the past two years, although we are not quite sure how the rest of the season will go considering the recent deaths of shearwaters which were well underweight," he said.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Image of the Day

A macaroni penguin in the grass in Cooper Bay, South Georgia

This Week's Pencognito!

Please visit Jen and all the pengies HERE

Penguin cruise tourists trapped in sea ice

The Russian icebreaker Kapitan Khlebnikov in Antarctic Sea

Antarctica: Penguin cruise tourists trapped in sea ice

* Sam Rogers
* The Observer, Sunday 15 November 2009

The Russian icebreaker Kapitan Khlebnikov in the Weddell Sea, Antarctica. ca. 1993. Photograph: Galen Rowell/© Galen Rowell/CORBIS

Eighty British tourists on a journey to watch emperor penguins in the Antarctic have been stranded for a week after their cruise ship got stuck in the ice. The Kapitan Khlebnikov, a Russian icebreaker that takes people through the icebergs of the Weddell Sea and to Snow Hill Island rookery, set out on 3 November and was due to return tomorrow.

But bad weather caused the sea-ice to compact, making it impossible for the ship, with its 105 passengers, including the 80 Britons, to break through. Among those on board are a BBC crew filming The Frozen Planet, a nature documentary series produced by Alastair Fothergill, who also made Blue Planet. A BBC spokeswoman said the team, who were supposed to take helicopter rides from the ship to film the penguins from above, were frustrated but in no danger.

There are also biologists and geologists on the ship, who are said to be giving daily conferences to keep passengers entertained.

Passing the message on through a satellite phone, a passenger, who has asked to remain anonymous, said: "The first three days went according to plan, but then the weather started changing. Now we have to wait for winds to change."

The passengers and crew are in no danger and it is expected that the ice will decompress enough over the weekend for the ship to navigate its way out and return to Ushuaia, Argentina.


Emperor Penguin paper model

Animal papercraft: Emperor Penguin paper model

Emperor penguin papercraft model with free printable template by Canon Creative Park.

Far away in Antarctica where no living being in sight except for few animal species which adapt perfectly with the extreme environment. Among them, there is this species of penguin called emperor penguin. It is the largest penguin in the world. Emperor Penguins can grow to be approximately 100 to 130 cm tall, and weigh about 30 kg. But you know, you can actually get one in your room. Smaller sizepenguin size which is penguin paper model prepared by Canon Creative Park. You can have them stay on your table, no feeding is needed :P

OK, this penguin looks cute alright. The template is free and there are 2 types of templates, for A4 size and letter size. The detailed assembling instruction can be downloaded from Canon Creative Park page. So check it out if you are interested.

Download HERE

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Image of the Day

Trio of Kings
Originally uploaded by Angie Bunch
Molting king penguins photographed on South Georgia Island.

Free Penguin Wallpaper

A Canadian Penguin!

London School of Economics' beloved Canadian penguin replaced with impostor
Posted: November 13, 2009, 8:15 AM by Mary Vallis

One of the mascots of the prestigious London School of Economics is a stately Emperor penguin that stands guard at Clare Market — or at least it did, until three men wrested the bird from its moorings back in March and ran off with it. The penguin has not been seen since. Alas, all that remained of the beloved 60-pound bird were its broken feet.

Students started a Facebook memorial page demanding the return of the penguin — crafted by Canadian artist Yolanda vanderGaast and bequeathed to the school by a Canadian alumnus, Louis Odette — and left tins of sardines at its empty plinth.

But last week, the LSE unveiled a replacement: an identical penguin, but one that is heavier, stronger and more difficult to steal.

“It’s just been fixed into place. The penguin is back,” Warwick Smith, a spokesman for the LSE, confirmed.

Curiously, this is not the first time one of Ms. vanderGaast's penguins has been stolen. Back in 2001, the same model was stolen from a riverfront park in Windsor, Ont. Despite a widespread ground and water search, that penguin was never recovered, either.

“I was shocked to find out it was stolen again in London,” Ms. vanderGaast said from her studio this week. “People can’t figure out what it is about it that seems to attract that kind of attention."

“People just like penguins, I guess.”

—Mary Vallis, National Post

Photos: Nigel Stead/LSE

Friday, November 13, 2009

Image of the Day

Proud King
Originally uploaded by Angie Bunch
Photographed on South Georgia Island.

PFach Wins the Hearts of Penguin Lovers, As Well

Many of you are going to have just one word for this morning's Daily TwitPic:


"New Moon" star Peter Facinelli may drink the blood of helpless fuzzy creatures in his role as patriarch of the Cullen clan, but in real life he's more interested in saving them. Or at least just making friends with them. The headline above doesn't lie. Facinelli shakes hands with a penguin in the pic after the jump. A cute, fuzzy penguin. And to the penguin's credit, it manages to keep itself together, even in the presence of a much-loved "Twilight" star. Maybe it's just crapping its pants (fur?) because it knows what those Cullen people are capable of.

As a huge Twilight Saga fan, I am thrilled that finally my two passions have been connected. But even more, with each charity within which he involves himself, or the many acts of kindness he is known for, or his constant interest in saving lives, I become more and more, the PFach ardent fan. Indeed, my admiration for him grows exponentially in accordance with his generosity. In addition, he is a devoted family man--loyal and loving.

Quite simply, I love him and what he stands for. So Peter--if you ever read this, here's a huge hug from a penguin conservationist and avid Twi-hard. May we both continue to do what we can to make this world a better place wherein to live.


Article and images source:

Say Krill!

Watch the birdie! Penguin peers through camera's viewfinder... as his feathered friends strike a pose

Get a little closer just move to the right a little, please. That's almost it.... Say: 'Freeze!'

By Mail Foreign Service
13th November 2009

Wildlife photographers? Who needs them.

This group of Emperor penguins seemed to have the whole process in hand - or flipper - after taking over a camera and tripod that were left on the ice in Antarctica.

One of them peered through the viewfinder with a beady eye, and others organised themselves in a family group with children at the front.

The inquisitive creatures delighted photographer David Schultz, 53, who had backed away with another camera to let them play with his equipment.

He said: 'The penguins were humbling, hilarious, extremely curious and wonderfully photogenic.

'I remember one of the birds stayed behind the camera as the others moved to the front. With their heads stretched out, constantly bobbing, it seriously seemed as if they were posing.

'And then the one behind the camera changed position so it appeared as if it was looking right through the viewfinder.

'Moments later they seemed to have become bored with it all and wandered back, only to be replaced with a cluster of inquisitive chicks.'

David was amazed when two of the penguins appeared to pose for a playful shot in the pristine white landscape while a third framed them from behind the lens.

He said: 'While hiking from the helicopter base camp to the main Emperor penguin rookery it quickly became obvious the penguins were as interested in us as we were in them.

'The chicks, now several months old, would cluster together and if you lay on the ice and waited they would eventually come right up to you.

'In fact, at times it seemed the adults were giving them encouragement to investigate, and occasionally even a little nudge in my direction.

'Late one afternoon, the fifth day on the ice, I had watched as a few adults started walking my way.
Have you got my good side? Three other penguins lark about in front of the camera as their companion zooms in on them

Have you got my good side? Three other penguins lark about in front of the camera as their companion zooms in on them

'I had one camera set up on the tripod with another around my neck and I knew I might have the chance of capturing some interaction between my gear and the wildlife.

'As they approached my backpack on the ice several meters away, it became a curiosity for them to investigate.

'I backed away just to see what would happen, knowing my cameras were well insured.

'They left the pack and began walking around the tripod, not paying any attention to me, as I positioned myself in different spots to capture any possible antics.'

David, from Utah, in the US, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes aged 13 and told to consider a different career because his disease could lead to blindness.

He is now delighted that he did not follow his doctor's advice.

He said: 'Capturing that precise moment when everything comes together for what I would consider a "great photo", then having the privilege to share it with so many others is a wonderful feeling and opportunity.

'Should the loss of my vision ever become an issue I will have all of these images forever in my mind, as was the intent when I picked up my first camera.'

Read more:

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Ping Pong, Anyone?

News: Penguin DNA

Ancient penguin DNA raises doubts about accuracy of genetic dating techniques

Published: Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Penguins that died 44,000 years ago in Antarctica have provided extraordinary frozen DNA samples that challenge the accuracy of traditional genetic aging measurements, and suggest those approaches have been routinely underestimating the age of many specimens by 200 to 600 percent. In other words, a biological specimen determined by traditional DNA testing to be 100,000 years old may actually be 200,000 to 600,000 years old, researchers suggest in a new report in Trends in Genetics, a professional journal.

The findings raise doubts about the accuracy of many evolutionary rates based on conventional types of genetic analysis.

"Some earlier work based on small amounts of DNA indicated this same problem, but now we have more conclusive evidence based on the study of almost an entire mitochondrial genome," said Dee Denver, an evolutionary biologist with the Center for Genome Research and Biocomputing at Oregon State University.

"The observations in this report appear to be fundamental and should extend to most animal species," he added. "We believe that traditional DNA dating techniques are fundamentally flawed, and that the rates of evolution are in fact much faster than conventional technologies have led us to believe."

The findings, researchers say, are primarily a challenge to the techniques used to determine the age of a sample by genetic analysis alone, rather than by other observations about fossils. In particular, they may force a widespread re-examination of determinations about when one species split off from another, if that determination was based largely on genetic evidence.

For years, researchers have been using their understanding of the rates of genetic mutations in cells to help date ancient biological samples, and in what's called "phylogenetic comparison," used that information along with fossil evidence to determine the dates of fossils and the history of evolution. The rates of molecular evolution "underpin much of modern evolutionary biology," the researchers noted in their report.

"For the genetic analysis to be accurate, however, you must have the right molecular clock rate," Denver said. "We now think that many genetic changes were happening that conventional DNA analysis did not capture. They were fairly easy to use and apply but also too indirect, and inaccurate as a result."

This conclusion, researchers said, was forced by the study of many penguin bones that were well preserved by sub-freezing temperatures in Antarctica. These penguins live in massive rookeries, have inhabited the same areas for thousands of years, and it was comparatively simple to identify bones of different ages just by digging deeper in areas where they died and their bones piled up.

For their study, the scientists used a range of mitochondrial DNA found in bones ranging from 250 years to about 44,000 years old.

"In a temperate zone when an animal dies and falls to the ground, their DNA might degrade within a year," Denver said. "In Antarctica the same remains are well-preserved for tens of thousands of years. It's a remarkable scientific resource."

A precise study of this ancient DNA was compared to the known ages of the bones, and produced results that were far different than conventional analysis would have suggested. Researchers also determined that different types of DNA sequences changed at different rates.

Aside from raising doubts about the accuracy of many specimens dated with conventional approaches, the study may give researchers tools to improve their future dating estimates, Denver said.

Source: Oregon State University

Leopard seal captures penguin

Pictured: the 12ft leopard seal about to eat penguin
A diver has captured the moment a 12ft leopard seal - with its mouth wide open displaying its two-inch long razor sharp teeth - prepared to lunch on a penguin.The agile leopard seal of Pleneau Island near Port Lockroy Photo: AMOS NACHOUN/BARCROFT

10 Nov 2009

The animal was photographed in the shallows of Antarctica's freezing Southern Ocean.

The agile leopard seal of Pleneau Island near Port Lockroy is part of a group that congregate each year on the Antarctic Peninsula to feed.

The pictures was taken by the underwater photographer Amos Nachoun, a former member of the Israeli special forces, who said: "The leopard seal is a canny operator. He will ambush his prey in a skillful manner by waiting in silence at the bottom of the shallow channels that run along Pleneau Island.

"They will then launch themselves at the unsuspecting penguin and grab hold of its feet.

"Using their immense grip the seal will then hold the penguin under the water until it has drowned."

"They do not like to eat the penguin feathers."

Mr Nachoun said: "We travel for four days from Ushairi on the southern coast of Argentina in a sail boat at the height of the Antarctic summer to get to Pleneau Island."


South Georgia Update

Moulting kings keeping their toes cool in the snow.

Image courtesy of South Georgia Newsletter: