Friday, November 30, 2012

Image of the Day

647-16L by Lozarithm
647-16L, a photo by Lozarithm on Flickr.

African penguin
"Just a little itch"

Penguin-like bird hanging out at Lovers Point in Pacific Grove

By Amy Larson
 Nov 29, 2012

Sonya Chang shot this photo of a cute bird at Lover's Point on Thursday. (Nov. 29, 2012)
Sonya Chang
MONTEREY, Calif. — 
  A bird was spotted at Lovers Point on Thursday that had some wondering if a penguin had waddled into Pacific Grove.

Sonya Chang snapped photos of the cute black and white sea bird while it was hanging out on the Lovers Point pier.

A California Department of Fish and Game officer and Monterey Peninsula bird experts confirmed that the bird is not a penguin. It's actually a common murre.

PHOTOS: Penguin-like bird at Lovers Point

Common murres live beyond the Monterey Bay out on the open ocean. They are not commonly seen because they rarely come to shore, and only show up on land if they are breeding or injured.
KSBW called the Monterey County SPCA at 2 p.m. and asked their wildlife rescuers to check on the common murre at Lovers Point and make sure it was OK.

Monterey County SPCA spokeswoman Beth Brookhouser said rescuers determined that the young bird was dehydrated and tired, so they brought it back to the wildlife center for rehabilitation.
Brookehouser said common murres are migrating along the Central Coast right now, and the bird was likely exhausted from trying to migrate during Wednesday and Thursday's stormy weather.

Anyone who spots a marine bird in distress along the shore should call the SPCA at 831-373-2631.
"It might be easy to mistake this bird for a penguin, with its white belly, dark head and wings, and upright posture. But common murres aren’t even related to penguins," the Monterey Bay Aquarium wrote on its website. "Common murres are seabirds that spend eight or nine months of each year continuously at sea. Those short wings are perfect for diving and 'flying' underwater."


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Image of the Day

Gentoo penguin chicks born at Moody Gardens

By Jennifer Pearson | Updated: November 29, 2012

Senior biologist Hector Moral holds two newly hatched Gentoo penguin chicks as he takes them back to their mother after weighing them at Moody Gardens Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012, in Galveston. The chicks were born over the Thanksgiving holiday. Photo: Brett Coomer, Houston Chronicle / © 2012 Houston Chronicle
GALVESTON - They weigh next to nothing. Their genders are unknown. And they're not even originally from these parts.

But one thing is certain about the two recently born gentoo penguins at Moody Gardens Aquarium Pyramid: They're darn cute.

The chicks were born Thanksgiving weekend at Moody Gardens, weighing in at a minuscule 23.4 and 11.8 grams, respectively.

Their arrival marks the eighth year of successful breeding of the aquarium's gentoo population. Gentoos, native to Antarctica, are known for their white-feather caps and colorful feet and beaks.
"We first discovered these guys in mid-October, and we were sort of keeping an eye out for them to hatch," Moody Gardens spokeswoman Stephanie Chan said. "As our biologists were cleaning and changing out the light bulbs and doing their daily routines on Thanksgiving Day, they noticed a chick when one of the parents stood up. The little guy just popped out."

Two days later, a smaller sibling hatched and burrowed into the warmth of its parents' protection. The chicks currently weigh 344 and 165 grams.

'Christmas tradition'

Facilities with penguins in captivity have generally good breeding results. During this year's mating season, staff members witnessed and captured the species' various mating rituals on video, including bowing and the collecting of stones for nests. Gentoos are easy to spot in the penguin exhibit because of their distinctive yellow feet.

"It's kind of a Christmas tradition here. We have chicks around Christmastime each year, and we fully expect these chicks are going to do very well," said assistant curator Diane Olsen. "They're going to grow up to be adults here in the next few months, and they'll join the colony with all the other birds."
The chicks are expected to be fully grown in eight weeks. Identifying the gender of gentoo penguins is extremely difficult because of their identical features. Feather samples will be used to test DNA to confirm their genders.

Because Moody Gardens is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the pair could be sent to other facilities throughout the country to promote breeding. But for now, they're best left to the care of their parents.

"The chicks are on exhibit for guests to see, and if they come and look in the center, they can see the chicks," Olsen said. "You might see the parents feeding them, so we encourage everyone to come to Moody Gardens and take a look."


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

An open letter from Dr. Dee-Penguins need your help!
5:33 PM (46 minutes ago)

This isn’t a penguin update but I could sure use a computer vote from you, your friends, and many, many children. The Global Penguin Society that we started a few years ago and the Penguin Project have teamed up and our funding from Disney depends on the number of votes. Please go to the website and vote for the penguins.

Helping the penguins has never been so easy. Disney Amigos por el Mundo is letting the public vote on which project to dedicate their conservation funds. The penguins need your vote.  As you know penguins are a species facing great perils. The Global Penguin Society and the Penguin Project needs your votes to get help from Disney to conduct research into where and how penguins live, and determine the best ways to care for these animals at sea and on land. One of the best ways to help penguins is through educational workshops and personal experiences that change people’s behavior. Our funds will help with research but also the funds will bring children that live near penguin colonies out to learn about the penguins so they can become their guardians.  There are several projects that are competing for Disney funds so we urge you to vote for the penguins.

VOTE NOW by going to the link below and clicking on the “Proteger a los pingüinos” box underneath the Emperor penguin picture.

Best Wishes,

P. Dee Boersma, Ph.D
Wadsworth Endowed Chair in Conservation Science
Department of Biology, Box 351800
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195-1800
Phone: 206-616-2185
Fax: 206-221-7839

Image of the Day

B-162-0114 by Toopika The Search Engine
B-162-0114, a photo by Toopika The Search Engine on Flickr.

group dive

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Penguins killed in dog attack

IT IS a sad day when 15 little penguins are discovered dead on a beach.
This happened recently on Camdale beach.

"We had a call from a resident that there were dead penguins," North-West Parks and Wildlife officer Tina Alderson said.
"They collected the carcasses for us and brought them in the next day.

"(The attack) may have happened over a couple of days - it's hard to determine," Ms Alderson said.
Ms Alderson said the carcasses were sent off to the animal health lab in Launceston for an autopsy, with the results indicating the Penguins were killed in a dog attack.

"It's unfortunate because it is breeding season as well. Some of those penguins may have had eggs or chicks."
Ms Alderson said dog owners should not allow their animals to roam - particularly at this time of the year with penguins nesting.

"If you do see a dog roaming in the area, call a dog control officer," she said.
If you stumble across dead penguins, contact the nearest Parks and Wildlife service office, or call the Biodiversity Conservation Branch on 62336556.

If you come across an injured penguin in your travels, Ms Alderson said the best way to deal with it was to place it in a well-ventilated box and in a quiet, cool place and contact your local vet or a wildlife carer.


Image of the Day

Pair of penguins by poormommy
Pair of penguins, a photo by poormommy on Flickr.

Excerpt from South Georgia Newsletter 2012

The Gentoos stay on the island all year round, and there is always a lot of variation in when they start to breed, but this year they got going particularly early and have now finished laying. One of our annual tasks is to count every Gentoo nest on the island which is a big task completed over a couple of days. Counting penguins is a bit of a dark art as is it incredibly difficult to work out who is actually on an egg, and who is just having a lie down, and also to keep track of where you have got to, and generally involves lots of descriptions involving ‘that stone next to the penguin...’!

Ruth and Rob counting the gentoos at Natural Arch
Ruth and Rob counting the gentoos at Natural Arch

Unlike the gentoos the comical looking macaroni penguins with their bushy yellow ‘eyebrows’ head to sea for the winter, leaving behind vast empty swathes of hillside where their colonies used to be. Since they left back in April not a single one has been seen until the 17th of the month when we saw the first few males returning to colony Big Mac to claim their territories. Over the following two weeks the rest of the males have returned and the colonies are now full of thousands of macs defending their territories and awaiting their mates, it is amazing to see such a rapid influx of penguins!

A very small section of Big Mac, this is only the males so the density will double in the next fortnight.
A very small section of Big Mac, this is only the males so the density will double in the next fortnight.

We also had an unusual visit from another member of the penguin kingdom this month, when an Adelie was seen mingling with the gentoos at Square Pond. Adelies are generally restricted to Antarctic waters, only very rarely being sighted around South Georgia. It was great to see one, this is the first I have seen in 4 years of working on South Georgia. He was a fine chap, and very amenable to the paparazzi style photography he inevitably received from all on base, although he might have chosen a better backdrop than muddy tussock!

The Adelie penguin in his muddy scene.
C,C,Click at a Penguin: Several groups from the KEP science base took the opportunity to walk or ski the long trek across the Barff Peninsula to visit the wildlife of St Andrews Bay during the elephant seal breeding season. Despite heavy packs there is always room for a good camera if you are going to this amazing spot, and Alastair Wilson’s efforts to carry his photographic gear all the way there were paid off with this amazing shot of the Milky Way over the king penguin colony at night.

Photo Alastair Wilson
Photo Alastair Wilson

Krill in the Cove: There has been a lot of krill in and around King Edward Cove in October. Day after day the krill could be seen in the shallows, and in places washed up in heaps on the beaches, and the local birds had feasted so heavily on the bounty that they could eat no more and sat in big flocks all around the shore. At night the krill were emitting phosphorescence in the wake of the boats.

Krill heaped up on the beach. Photo Alastair Wilson
Krill heaped up on the beach. Photo Alastair Wilson

South Georgia October 2012 Newsletter

Monday, November 26, 2012

Image of the Day

King of the hill by begineerphotos
King of the hill, a photo by begineerphotos on Flickr.

Penguin nest boxes prove popular

Last updated-26/11/2012

RIGHT AT HOME: Two little blue penguins at a nest in August.

Man-made love nests are helping Wellington’s little blue penguin population thrive.
Wellington Zoo and Forest and Bird have finished putting out more than 200 nest boxes along the South Coast, and is now monitoring how well they are used.

The next inspection of the boxes will be on Wednesday, but Zoo spokeswoman Libby Callander said they had proved popular since they first started being introduced three years ago.
Little blue penguins nest in pairs, and two chicks had emerged from every nest boxes peguins settled in last year.

"They might not look that comfy, but they actually really like them."
The wooden boxes have small entrance, but provide shelter and protection from predators such as dogs.
Placing the boxes along the coast also enables the penguins to find safe nests without having to venture across the road, where they were at danger from cars.

"Having the nest boxes out there gives them a safer place to nest," Ms Callander said.
As monitoring continued, more boxes may be placed along the coast, as the most popular nesting spots were identified, she said.
"It’s going to continue on and just build on it so that we have got this really nice environment that they can enjoy."

The Zoo formalised its Places for Penguins partnership with Forest and Bird earlier this year. 
The programme started in 2007, with the aim of making the south cast a safer habitat, and the first nest boxes started being put out in 2009.


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Images of the Day

Penguin popularity

Since the Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins" debuted in 2005, penguins have held a prominent place in popular culture. From books and movies to clothing and home décor, these adorable flightless birds can be found pretty much everywhere.
There are 17 to 20 different species of penguins in existence today, and they’re found across the southern hemisphere — from the Galapagos Islands to Antarctica. Here, we take a look at 10 penguin species to learn more about the flippered birds that have captured our imaginations. (Text: Laura Moss)

Emperor penguin

Reaching heights of 4 feet, the Emperor penguin is the tallest of all penguin species. The bird lives in Antarctica, where it dives for fish, krill and crustaceans, and it can reach depths of 1,755 feet and stay submerged for up to 18 minutes. The Emperor penguin is best known for its annual journey to mate and feed its offspring, which was the focus of the documentary “March of the Penguins.”
Famous fowl
In June 2011, an Emperor Penguin was found on a New Zealand beach consuming sand, which it had mistaken for snow. The bird underwent multiple to remove the sand, sticks and stones from its stomach. Following recovery, the bird, named "Happy Feet," was fitted with a tracking device and released into the Southern Ocean.

Adelie penguin

Named after explorer Jules Dumont d’Urville’s wife, Adele, these penguins live on the Antarctic coast and can swim at speeds of up to 45 miles per hour. The birds are easily recognizable by the distinctive white rings around their eyes and the fact that they’re mostly black with a white belly — giving them an appearance close to the stereotypical image of penguins.
Famous fowl
In 1911, explorer George Murray Levick observed the Adelie penguins' breeding cycle and was shocked by their “sexual deviance.” Homosexual acts, sexual abuse of chicks and attempts to mate with dead birds are recorded in Levick's paper "Sexual Habits of the Adelie Penguin," which was deemed too shocking for publication and was only recently discovered by London's Natural History Museum. Experts say the young penguins’ actions are due to sexual inexperience.

Humboldt penguin

Humboldt penguins are native to Chile and Peru and nest on islands and rocky coasts, often burrowing holes in guano. The birds’ numbers are declining due to overfishing, climate change and ocean acidification, and the animal is considered a vulnerable spcies. In 2010, Humboldt penguins were granted protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.
Famous fowl
In 2009, two male Humboldt penguins at a German zoo adopted an abandoned egg. After it hatched, the penguins raised the chick as their own. In 2012, one of the 135 Humboldt penguins at the Tokyo Sea Life Park in Japan scaled a 13-foot wall and escaped into Tokyo Bay, where it thrived for 82 days until it was recaptured.

Yellow-eyed penguin

Native to New Zealand, these birds may be the most ancient of all living penguins, and they live long lives, with some individuals reaching 20 years of age. Habitat destruction, introduced predators and disease have caused the penguins’ numbers to drop to an estimated population of 4,000. In 2004, a disease linked to a genus of bacteria that causes diphtheria in humans, wiped out 60 percent of the yellow-eyed penguins chicks on the Otago Peninsula. The species is endangered.
Famous fowl
The yellow-eyed penguin, or Hoiho, appears on the New Zealand $5 note.

Chinstrap penguin

Chinstrap penguins are easily recognizable by the black bands under their heads that give them the appearance of wearing helmets. They’re found in Antarctica, the Sandwich Islands and other southern island chains, where they live on barren islands and congregate on icebergs during winter. Experts consider these birds to be the most aggressive species of penguin.
Famous fowl
In 2004, two male chinstrap penguins at the Central Park Zoo formed a pair-bond and took turns trying to “hatch” a rock. A zookeeper later substituted the rock with a fertilized egg, and Roy and Silo hatched and raised the chick. A children’s book titled “And Tango Makes Three” was written about the penguins.

African penguin

These penguins are native to southern Africa and are the only penguins that breed on the continent. In fact, their presence is how the Penguin Islands got their name. African penguins are also called “jackass penguins” because of the donkey-like sounds they make. The species is endangered, with fewer than 26,000 breeding pairs remaining.
Famous fowl
Buddy and Pedro, two of the Toronto Zoo’s African penguins, made headlines in 2011 when zookeepers announced that the pair-bonded male birds would be separated in hopes they would mate with females.

King penguins

King penguins are the second largest species of penguin and can grow to 3 feet tall. The animals live in Antarctica, which has an estimated population of 2.23 million pairs, and the penguins are well adapted to the extreme living conditions. The birds boast 70 feathers per square inch of their bodies and have four layers of feathering. Like most penguins, king penguins are able to drink saltwater because their supraorbital glands filter out excess salt.
Famous fowl
Nils Olav is a king penguin at the Edinburgh Zoo in Scotland who serves as the mascot and colonel-in-chief of the Norwegian Royal Guard. In August 2008, the bird was knighted, an honor approved by the king of Norway.

Little penguin

The smallest species of penguin, the little penguin grows to an average height of 13 inches and can be found on the coasts of southern Australia and New Zealand. With about 350,000 to 600,000 of the animals in the wild, the species isn’t endangered; however, people still go to great lengths to protect the birds from predation. In some parts of Australia, Maremma sheepdogs have been trained to guard penguin colonies, and in Sydney, snipers have been deployed to protect little penguins from fox and dog attacks.
Famous fowl
Linus Torvalds, the creator of the Linux operating system, was once pecked by a little penguin, which inspired him to use a penguin as the Linux mascot.

Macaroni penguin

The macaroni penguin is one of six species of crested penguin, those penguins with yellow crests and red bills and eyes. The birds are found from the Subantarctic to the Antarctic Peninsula, and with 18 million individuals, the animals are the most numerous penguin species in the world. However, widespread declines in population have been reported since the 1970s, which has resulted in their conservation status being reclassified as vulnerable.
Famous fowl
Macaroni penguins have proved to be popular cartoon characters and have appeared in “The Penguins of Madagascar” and “Happy Feet.”

Galapagos penguin

This species of penguin is able to survive in the tropical climate of the Galapagos Islands due to the cool temperatures from the Humboldt Current. The third smallest species of penguin, the birds are particularly vulnerable to predation, and with an estimated population of around 1,500 birds, the species is endangered.
Famous fowl
As the only penguins in the world found north of the equator, all of the Galapagos penguins are famous in their own right.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Adorable baby penguin gets a kiss from mother

Just a little p-p-p-peck on the head

By Daily Mail Reporter

As they huddle together battling bitterly cold winds, a mother penguin reaches down and pecks her tiny fluffy chick on the head. 

The adorable scene was captured by wildlife photographer Thorsten Milse on Snow Hill Island, Antarctica.

In another cute shot, the fluffy chick peers out from under his mothers' body - looking straight down the photographers lens.

Two emperor penguins interact with their chick in Snow Hill Island, Antarctica
Happy feet: The adorable baby penguin gets a kiss from mother
Loving kiss: Two emperor penguins peck their chick on the head in Snow Hill Island, Antarctica
Loving kiss: Two emperor penguins peck their chick on the head in Snow Hill Island, Antarctica

The playful chick then scuttled off to dance around with friends on the ice.

The penguins - part of a huge emperor penguin clan - also huddled together to help shield their young from the bitter wind chills which can reach minus 76 degree Fahrenheit.

In the wild, Emperor Penguins typically live for 20 years, but some records indicate a maximum lifespan of around 40.

Happy feet: A group of emperor penguin chicks waddle along the ice in Snow Hill Island, Antarctica
Happy feet: A group of emperor penguin chicks waddle along the ice in Snow Hill Island, Antarctica

Playful pair: Two emperor penguin chicks play on the ice in Snow Hill Island, Antarctica. The adorable scene was captured by photographer Thorsten Milse on Snow Hill Island, Antarctica
Playful pair: Two emperor penguin chicks play on the ice in Snow Hill Island, Antarctica. The adorable scene was captured by photographer Thorsten Milse on Snow Hill Island, Antarctica

Two emperor penguins interact with their chick in Snow Hill Island, Antarctica
Hello world: An emperor penguin chick peers out from under his mother in Snow Hill Island

An emperor penguin chick peers out from under his mother in Snow Hill Island
Time to play: The penguins waddles around on the ice
Time to play: The penguins waddles around on the ice 

Emperor Penguins eat mainly crustaceans such as krill but also occasionally indulge in small fish and squid.

They were the stars of 2006 film Happy Feet which featured the birds.
They are excellent swimmers but on land they either shuffle along or slide about on their bellies. 

Standing over a metre tall they are the largest in the family, but endure the worst breeding conditions of any bird. 

Keeping warm: A playful pair peers out from under their parents
Keeping warm: A playful pair peer out from under their parents

Close: The penguins - part of a huge emperor penguin clan - also huddled together to help shield their young from the bitter wind chills which can reach minus 76 degree Fahrenheit
Close: The penguins - part of a huge emperor penguin clan - also huddled together to help shield their young from the bitter wind chills which can reach minus 76 degree Fahrenheit

In March they travel to nesting sites where there is strong competition between the females for a mate. 

After a single egg is laid the females return to the sea for some nourishment, leaving the males to incubate the eggs. 

The females return only when the chicks begin to hatch.