Thursday, January 31, 2013

Image of the Day-LOL

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New Zealand Farmer Helps Save Rare Penguin from Extinction

white-flippered penguin

One of the world’s smallest penguins has nearly doubled the size of its population in the past decade and much of the credit is due to the farmer who owns the land where many of the penguins breed.

White-flippered penguins (Eudyptula albosignata), also known as korora, are endemic to the Canterbury region of New Zealand, where the birds have just two major breeding sites, remote Motunau Island and the volcanic headlands of the Banks Peninsula. The latter is where Francis Helps and his wife Shireen have converted much of their farmland into a safe haven for the rare birds.

Helps tells New Zealand’s ONE News that he grew up surrounded by the small blue-white birds, which are known for their loud, football-like victory dances. “As a kid I can remember…all you could hear at night was penguins.”

But even then the penguins were on the decline. Invasive cats, ferrets and stoats (a type of weasel) had overrun the country, endangering many native birds. Like the flightless kiwi, the 30-centimeter korora became easy prey. The New Zealand Department of Conservation (DOC) estimates that up to 80 percent of the penguins throughout the Canterbury area (largest city Christchurch) were killed over a period of 50 years. (Tiny, rocky Motunau Island is predator-free, so the small colony there has maintained its numbers.)

Twenty years ago Helps and the DOC teamed up to support the penguins, installing traps to catch and kill the predators and nesting boxes to protect the penguins’ nests. The Christchurch City Council and the regional government agency Environment Canterbury have helped to a lesser extent, although funds from all three organizations have been extremely limited. The Helps also offer penguin tours and kayak trips to help fund conservation.

The efforts have all made a dramatic difference. A survey at the end of last year found 1,304 breeding pairs at Flea Bay, along with hundreds of juveniles and single adults. DOC says the population has grown by 25 percent since the last survey four years ago. In addition, a few other bird species have returned to the region, including yellow-eyed penguins (Megadyptes antipodes), which now have three nests in the bay. “It’s just a really little slice of penguin paradise,” DOC ranger Anita Spencer told The Press.

Until 2006 white-flippered penguins were considered a color morph (basically an unusual specimen) or possibly a subspecies of the more populous little penguin (E. minor). DNA tests published that year in Proceedings of the Royal Society B revealed them to be a species in their own right, although some sources still list them as a subspecies. The birds were listed as a threatened species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act in 2010, which limits their import into this country. New Zealand’s DOC is currently trying to establish additional breeding colonies elsewhere in the country in hopes of protecting the penguins against disease or other cataclysmic events, but it may not be easy. Previous research has shown that white-flippered penguins are extremely loyal to their nests and colonies and almost never move to new sites of their own volition.

Francis Helps discusses his efforts to protect the penguins in this 2010 video from the DOC and TVNZ 6:

Photo: A tagged white-flippered penguin in Christchurch by Heather F, via Flickr. Used under Creative Commons license


Handling penguin 'fatal move'

Bruce Vander Lee
HANDS OFF: Department of Conser vation Motueka biodiversity manager Bruce Vander Lee with a young penguin which died on Tuesday after being handled by members of the public.


A little blue penguin has died after being  picked up and handled by members of the public.

Department of Conservation Motueka  biodiversity manager Bruce Vander Lee said DOC received reports on Tuesday of a penguin  being  seen under a bush at Little Kaiteriteri near a pipe which he thought it may have been using as a burrow.

‘‘At that point someone decided it needed help and moved it.’’

DOC Motuka  then received a chain of phone calls about the penguin being handled.
The  area office staff told callers  that the bird should be left alone and placed back under the bush.
‘‘That evidently happened but not much later we had a call from a lady who said she had checked on the penguin and it looked very ill.

‘‘She was there when it died.’’

Mr Vander Lee said the  penguin was checked over by wildlife vet Mana Stratton, who found it was an adult bird just coming out of its moult.

‘‘At that stage they are  light in weight and usually dehydrated – it’s typical moult condition just before they are ready to return to the sea. They are also very sensitive to being disturbed at that stage.
‘‘The additional stress of  being handled could have killed it,’’ he said.

The people who handled the penguin had not been located, he said.

He said penguins, particularly ones in moult, were easily stressed by even the approach of dogs or humans and he advised people stay at least 5 metres away from penguins they saw. Ideally dogs should be put on their leads when penguins were seen nearby.

Mr Vander Lee said  New Zealanders’ love  of wildlife was fantastic, but people had to leave  wild animals alone and only summon help  through the DOC hotline  when they saw creatures with obvious injuries, he said.

‘‘Leave them alone. Animals are in their  natural environment and do not need saving.

‘‘Penguins appear to struggle on land  but they do not need help to get where they are going.
‘‘Seals always look sad, but unless they hang around for a couple of tide changes they are fine.’’


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Image of the Day

Yellow Eyed Penguin by NZSam
Yellow Eyed Penguin, a photo by NZSam on Flickr.

A Yellow Eyed Penguin (hoiho, megadyptes antipodes). The world's rarest penguin & endemic to New Zealand. Taken in The Catlins, New Zealand.

More Info on the Newly Discovered Emperor Penguin Colony

9,000 Penguins Discovered in Antarctica

Travelers Today | By Lena Vazifdar
Updated: Jan 28, 2013
emperor penguins
An Emperor Penguin colony was found in Antarctica.(Photo : Reuters) 
A recent expedition has resulted in the discovery of one of the largest emperor penguin colonies in Antarctica. National Geographic reports that last month a team from the International Polar Foundation's Princess Elisabeth station identified the colony, in return becoming the first human contact ever for the penguins.

The colony had been identified previously through satellite images from the British Antarctic Survey researchers and expedition leader Alain Hubert believed the colony to exist somewhere along Princess Elisabeth station.

"When you go on the coast after ten minutes, penguins come out of the water to look at who you are and what you are doing," Hubert said to National Geographic.

The Huffington Post reported that the colony had more than 9,000 emperor penguins. Last month Hubert with two other men took the journey to find the penguin colony. "We were lucky to find it," he said to National Geographic.

The satellite images gave the team an idea of where to start their search, but it was not precise.
They found the colony at 11 p.m. on Dec. 3. They said that three-quarters of the magnificent emperor penguins were chicks. "You can approach them," Hubert said of the penguins. "When you talk to them, it's like they are listening to you."

Emperor penguins once flourished in Antarctica and were not a huge concern for conservationists, however recently, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) recently changed their status from "least concern" to "near threatened." The IUCN said according to the Huffington Post that the penguins are "projected to undergo a moderately rapid population decline over the next three generations owing to the effects of projected climate change."

Emperor penguins are vulnerable to climate changes, which could become a big issue for the penguin population in lieu of increasing temperatures due to climate change.

National Geographic reported that they hope the newly discovered penguins will show them through population numbers and the location of their colony how penguins are doing with climate change.
"Emperor penguins breed on the sea ice. If the ice breaks up early, before the chicks can fend for themselves, the chicks die and the future of the colony is imperiled," reports National Geographic.
Hubert said that they found the penguin nursery to be on top of an underwater rift, which is an area where sea ice is less prone to melting. This gives Hubert and his team high hopes for the colony. He said to National Geographic, "They are quite clever, these animals."


Sunday, January 27, 2013

PHOTOS: Penguin Wears Wetsuit to Swim

Yellow-Pink will wear the wetsuit while swimming until grows new feathers.

A Mystic Aquarium penguin by the name of Yellow-Pink got fitted with a wetsuit this week so he could swim.

An African penguin’s feathers normally protect the penguin from getting cold. The penguins shed and grow all new feathers each year over a two-week period. But, 14-year-old, Yellow-Pink lost his feathers without getting new ones in the normal two-week period. The Mystic Aquarium’s penguin trainers, veterinarians and research scientists designed a neoprene wetsuit for Yellow-Pink to wear until he grows new feathers.

An African penguin’s dense feathers normally protect the penguin from getting cold
The Mystic Aquarium’s penguin trainers, veterinarians and research scientists designed a neoprene wetsuit for Yellow-Pink to wear until he grows new feathers.
Yellow Pink, a 14-year-old male African penguin, wears his custom neoprene wetsuit on exhibit at Mystic Aquarium in Mystic, Conn. He will wear his wetsuit while swimming until he grows new feathers.
A Mystic Aquarium penguin by the name of Yellow-Pink got fitted with a wetsuit this week so he could swim.
Yellow-Pink lost his feathers without getting new ones


Yellow-Pink lost his feathers without getting new ones


A Mystic Aquarium penguin by the name of Yellow-Pink got fitted with a wetsuit this week so he could swim.
The Mystic Aquarium’s penguin trainers, veterinarians and research scientists designed a neoprene wetsuit for Yellow-Pink to wear until he grows new feathers.


Yellow-Pink lost his feathers without getting new ones


Penguin Colony's First Contact With Humans In Antarctica Captured On Camera (VIDEO)

The Huffington Post  |  By Dominique Mosbergen Posted: 01/26/2013

A group of explorers recently became the first humans to ever make contact with a previously unknown colony of more than 9,000 Emperor penguins in the Antarctic. It was a meeting that the expedition leader called "unforgettable."

According to the International Polar Foundation, the group made contact with the Emperor penguin colony, said to be one of Antarctica's largest, in early December after evidence of the birds' existence was discovered using satellite imagery. In a 2009 paper, researchers from the British Antarctic Survey said they located the colony after images taken from space revealed evidence of "penguin poo."
Still, until the recent expedition, there hadn't been unequivocal proof of the colony's existence.
Expedition leader Alain Hubert, who has been in Antarctica for seven seasons and is in the region with the International Polar Foundation research team, told National Geographic that the satellite images gave him and his crew a "rough idea of where to start looking."

Last month, Hubert, along with two other men, hopped on snowmobiles and took a treacherous journey to where they believed the penguins to be. To their amazement, they struck gold. "We were lucky to find it," Hubert told National Geographic.

On Dec. 3, Hubert and his team stumbled upon the 9,000 Emperor penguins, basking in the Antarctic summer sun. They say they were the first humans that the penguins had ever seen.

According to CNN, about 3/4 of the colony were chicks. "Despite global warming, this colony… is growing," said Hubert.

Though Emperor penguins, a species endemic to Antarctica, once lived abundantly in the wild and were considered animals of "least concern" from a conservation standpoint, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) recently changed the status of the species to "near threatened." The animals are "projected to undergo a moderately rapid population decline over the next three generations owing to the effects of projected climate change," the IUCN explains.

As the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition website notes, Emperor penguins are "highly vulnerable" to changes in climate and are "predicted to suffer" if the world's average temperature should increase by 2 degrees Celsius (about 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), a change experts say will come by the year 2052.

According to a 2011 report by the National Research Council, the average temperature of the Earth’s surface has increased by about 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit over the past century; however, a whopping 1 degree Fahrenheit of this warming is said to have occurred over the past three decades.


This Week's Pencognito!

Please be sure to visit Jen and all the pengies here!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Penguin gets new suit to keep warm

Updated: Friday, 25 Jan 2013
MYSTIC, Conn. (WTNH) -- A penguin at the Mystic Aquarium needs a little help staying warm while swimming in this cold weather. The little guy has had some trouble growing his feathers back after molting.

No formal attire for the little guy. Yellow Pink gets dressed in a wetsuit each day. No, his tuxedo isn't at the dry cleaners, it's more a personal problem.

"He currently is going through what we call premature feather loss," said Josh Davis, Mystic Aquarium.

Each year African Penguins at Mystic Aquarium molt which means they lose and replace their feathers but Yellow Pink's outer feathers never grew back. An odd site among his peers.

"Actually we were seeing some penguins look at him funny before the wet suit when he didn't have his feathers but now that he has the wet suit on their like okay that's normal," said Davis.

Now the fourteen year old fits right in. Even his better half is getting used to his new look.
"His mate will actually preen it sometimes just like she would his feathers," said Davis.

Because it is so cold out Yellow Pink is not going outside to swim. Instead, he is getting a different type of exercise.

Wandering around just like he'd do in the exhibit. His wet suit keeps him warm without keeping him from joining any penguin games like swimming of course.

"And he can also climb into his territory, climb around the rocks on exhhibit. He can do everything all the other penguins can do," said Davis.

Custom made comfort until his molting gets back on track.

"We do anticipate him to molt we just don't know when," said Davis.

In the meantime he's sporting a sportier look these days.


Image of the Day


Friday, January 25, 2013

Image of the Day

IMG_0532.jpg by onimity
IMG_0532.jpg, a photo by onimity on Flickr.

King Penguin Chick


Friday, 25 January 2013

A decision has been taken by the Keepers to hand rear our penguin chicks this season.  Some years we take a break as our numbers are sufficient in the penguin pool and there is not a demand for surplus stock.
Penguin chick in eggPenguin chick hatching April 10Penguin chick in hand DSC_0015
We have 10 breeding pairs of Humboldt Penguins at the Park.  On average they lay two eggs that take between 39 – 42 days to incubate and hatch.  Our penguins are not very good parents!  Instead of regurgitating fish for their young they tend to pick up leaves, twigs and small pebbles and feed the chicks which is very dangerous.  Sometimes they just leave the chick by itself and not sit correctly on the nests so the chick gets cold and dies.

Penguin chick being syringe fedPenguin chick with fat belly DSC_0215Marian_Baby Penguins @ 20%

Once the chicks hatch they are weighed daily and then fed 10% of their body weight three times a day until they are around three months of age.  A liquidised fish soup is prepared with calcium, vitamins and a saline solution added.  Syringes are used to feed with data and records kept daily on size, weight and growth and an important emphasis put on sterilization and keeping all areas as clean as possible to avoid any bacterial infections.

The incubators have all been checked and serviced, all equipment is being organised and then to sort out the penguin breeding caves with the necessary nesting material they need to make a nice comfortable bed for the breeding stock to lay their eggs.  Excitement all round will keep you all posted……
Barrow load of trouble P1020866

Adelie penguins: cool, efficient killing machines

TOKYO (Reuters) - Fish of the Antarctic, be very afraid. There's an unlikely stealth predator on the loose - Adelie penguins.

Forget their ungainly waddling on land or comical bobbing at the ocean's surface. As soon as these penguins dive into the icy Antarctic ocean, they become calculating, efficient killing machines, say Japanese researchers.

"You could say the penguins have an amazing stealth mode," said Yuuki Watanabe, a researcher at Japan's National Institute of Polar Research. "They're great at sneaking up on their prey and taking them unaware."

Watanabe this week released footage recorded in December 2010 showing a bird's eye view of a hunt for fish and small crustaceans called krill, captured using a small video camera strapped to the backs of more than a dozen penguins.

"The krill wiggle their bodies about, they clearly make an attempt to swim off at full speed and escape," Watanabe said of his findings, published in the U.S.-based Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this week.

"But that doesn't make the slightest difference to the penguins. They just gobble up the krill that are trying to get away and swallow them whole."

Using the "penguin cams," which were set to automatically switch on when a penguin entered the water and shoot for 90 minutes, Watanabe and his team were able to capture the secrets of penguins on the hunt.

Additional information came from two accelerometers strapped to each bird that measured its head and body movements to calculate how fast it devoured its prey.

"We didn't really know if the penguins caught krill one-by-one. I'd thought that maybe they just got into their stomachs when they were after some other prey," Watanabe said. "But when we saw the footage it turned out the penguins were doing just that, eating these tiny little creatures one after the other."

Not only that, the penguins didn't swim randomly but hung poised on the edge of the ice until a thick swarm neared, then swooped into the water. Footage showed a penguin zooming under the ice and then deeper, its head snapping rapidly up as it fed.

The krill killing-rate was both fast and efficient. The penguins gobbled an average of two krill per second when the krill were clustered in swarms, a much faster rate than under general hunting conditions when the penguins consumed about 244 krill in roughly 90 minutes.

"I was so happy when I got the footage of a penguin going straight into a swarm of krill and gorging itself," Watanabe said.

Penguin research completed, Watanabe now aims to repeat the same exercise with sharks.

(Writing by Elaine Lies, Editing by Michael Perry)

Busted. Adorable giggling penguin baby wasn’t giggling after all.

I’m pretty sure I’d previously posted this video of Cookie the Penguin who lives at the Cincinnati Zoo.  But at the time I didn’t know the rest of the story, as they say.
Now, after googling the back-story, it’s a little weirder.
You see, in the video below, Cookie wasn’t giggling from being tickled. Cookie was – how shall I say this – happily flirting with Mr. Hand.

We spoke to the zoo, and — as someone suggested on Facebook — dear Cookie is not giggling in video, but engaging in typical breeding behavior. “Some penguins are more vocal than others,” said zoo spokeswoman Tiffany Barnes. Now I feel a little weird watching this.


Melbourne Aquarium welcomes baby penguin

Yahoo!7 January 24, 2013

King penguin chick

An extra pair of happy feet have been welcomed by staff at Melbourne Aquarium.
The King Penguin chick, whose gender is not yet known, arrived to first-time parents Billy and Blake yesterday morning, weighing approximately 200 grams.
It's the first chick of it's kind to be born in Australia, making it a momentous occasion for staff.
King Penguins are difficult to breed in aquariums because it is hard to replicate their natural environment.
The public were given a first glimpse of the new arrival and its proud family at the Arctic exhibit earlier today.
Much like a human newborn babies, when chicks first hatch, they are extremely dependent on their parents.
To keep safe the baby snuggles under their bodies.

Image of the Day

African penguin wears custom wetsuit

Contributed/ Mystic Aquarium
African Penguin Yellow/Pink, a 14-year-old male, wears a wetsuit at Mystic Aquarium on Friday, November 9, 2012. The wetsuit keeps Yellow/Pink, a healthy penguin, warm as he experiences premature feather loss as part of an irregular molting pattern.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Image of the Day

chu♡   by "KIUKO"
chu♡  , a photo by "KIUKO" on Flickr.

Little Blue Penguin

In Pictures: A Penguin Party At The Shedd Aquarium

The Shedd Aquarium celebrated National Penguin Awareness Day on Sunday with the Shedd's Rockhopper and Magellanic penguins. In the photos here, provided by the Shedd, penguins play with colorful toys and foam-covered cones as part of their development and training. Rockhopper penguins are identified by the distinctive crest feathers on their heads, bright orange-red bills and tiny blood-red eyes. They are among the smallest of penguins, weighing four to six pounds and some shorter than a foot. Magellanic penguins can grow to more than twice that at around 27 inches tall, weighing seven to nine pounds.

Want to get a closer look? The next Illinois resident discount days are Jan. 28 and 29. Resident days offer free general admission and discounts to other exhibits. The Shedd trainers also hold daily habitat chats, or check out Planet Earth: From Pole to Pole 4-D Experience to learn about emperor penguins.

Want to get even closer? Book a Penguin Encounter in advance. That will get you a 30-minute session with the opportunity to touch a penguin's feathers and learn more from the Shedd's trainers. Encounters are offered on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Prices are $59.95 for adults, $50.95 for children.

The Shedd Aquarium is located at 1200 South Lake Shore Drive. The facilities are closed Jan. 23 and 24 for maintenance.

How life looks if you're a penguin

Astonishing video reveals world through the eyes of Antarctic's cute but ruthless hunters

  • Video taken by cameras strapped to the back of Adélie penguins in waters off the coast of Antarctica
  • Researchers found that not a single target was missed
  By Mark Prigg

Penguins with video cameras strapped to their backs have given researchers an incredible glimpse into their ruthless hunting methods.

The footage shows Adélie penguins in waters off the coast of Antarctica diving in both shallow and deep waters.

During about 88 minutes of diving recorded, the Antarctic birds devoured 244 krill and 33 Arctic fish, the team found - with not a single target missed.

Watch the video below 


Using video cameras weighing just 33 grammes (around 1 oz) and equipped with accelerometers, depth gauges and thermometers, researchers were able to see exactly what the penguin sees.

The accelerometers also measured how the birds moved - allowing them to see the birds using a 'snapping' motion to catch fish.

'The foraging behaviour of Adélie penguins is remarkably fast and efficient,' the scientists write in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The study was led by two Japanese scientists, Yuuki Watanabe and Akinori Takahashi at the National Institute of Polar Research in Tokyo.

They attached video cameras to the birds backs, and small accelerometers to the birds' bodies and heads.

The film was recorded between December 2010 and early February 2011.

Footage from Adélie penguins in waters off the coast of Antarctica showed the birds darting at krill, snapping up fish, and hunting down prey beneath sheets of floating ice in the Lützow-Holm bay area.

The video also reveals the astonishing speed of the birds.
The penguins swimming out to sea before they dive, as captured by the penguin-cam
The penguins swimming out to sea before they dive, as captured by the penguin-cam
Penguins chase small fish underwater, snapping their head sideways to catch them
Penguins chase small fish underwater, snapping their head sideways to catch them

The video captures over 80 minutes of dives from penguins, revealing their hunting tactics for the first time
The video captures over 80 minutes of dives from penguins, revealing their hunting tactics for the first time

One penguin swam into a dense swarm of krill and captured two of the shrimp-like creatures in one second, and researchers said their ability to surprise prey was astonishing.

'Escape behaviour of the fish was not evident in most cases, suggesting an excellent stealth approach by penguins,' the scientists write. 

'However, in two cases, they chased a P borchgrevinki toward the underside of the sea ice and caught it there, as if they used the ice surface as a barrier,' they add.

Adlelie penguins leaping off icebergs: Scientists have now released camera footage showing exactly what they see when they hunt
Adlelie penguins leaping off icebergs: Scientists have now released camera footage showing exactly what they see when they hunt

Krill and fish called bald notothens (Pagothenia borchgrevinki) made up 96% of the food the penguins caught.

Watanabe said the accelerometer -- a device also used in mobile phones, tablet computers and games consoles -- allowed researchers to precisely measure the bird's head movements and showed how one penguin could catch two krill in under a second.

The Adelie Penguin (Pygoscelis adeliae)was found to be a ruthless killer that never missed its target
The Adelie Penguin (Pygoscelis adeliae)was found to be a ruthless killer that never missed its target

'Now we know what the Adelie penguin preys on and how much it eats, we can understand how the penguin survives and how it relates to its environment,' he said.
The cameras also revealed that the penguins turned their heads quickly to engulf prey.

The penguin's fragile Antarctic habitat is at risk from climate change, with scientists warning that as pack ice melts, their numbers could fall dramatically.

Watanabe said the tiny cameras and micro equipment had given researchers a much better understanding of how the penguin lives.

"We now understand how much they rely on those fish that inhabit water just below the sea ice, which means that Adelie penguins can only survive in a sea ice environment," said Watanabe.