Monday, March 31, 2014

Image of the Day

Manchots de Humbolt
Humboldt Penguin

Gentoo penguins land at Sea Life Centre

  • By David Godsall

ATER migrating more than 11,000 miles from Auckland, New Zealand, a colony of waddling Gentoo penguins have arrived at their new home at The National SEA LIFE Centre Birmingham.
The birds will be the stars of the centre’s newest attraction, Penguin Ice Adventure, which is set to open on Monday 7th April, giving visitors a real insight into the lives and quirky habits of the Gentoo, which are the fastest underwater swimming penguins, reaching speeds of up to 36kph.

The all new Penguin Ice Adventure will take visitors on an expedition into the rarely seen Antarctic landscape where they can marvel at the cheeky antics of the birds. Multiple viewing platforms will allow guests to see these endearing creatures as they dive beneath the freezing waters up to 450 times a day and play in their icy home.

Visitors can also feel the ice wall to experience the cold climate which is home to these birds. With indoor temperatures of eight degrees Celsius, visitors will need to wrap up warm, although the penguins will feel right at home. Visitors will also get hear them too, as Gentoos have a very distinctive trumpet call, often likened to a donkey bray. The trumpeting noise they make is so loud it can reach over 80 decibels.

Amy Langham, General Manager at The National SEA LIFE Centre Birmingham, said: “The penguins have had a long journey, but they’re all in good health and will now be getting used to their new home. There has been a lot of excitement about their arrival and we are confident that visitors will love them as much as we do!”

“The birds, which are classified as near-threatened on the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List, have been bred together at Kelly Tarleton’s SEA LIFE Centre in Auckland as part of our Breed, Rescue, Protect programme.”
The National SEA LIFE Centre Birmingham transports visitors to an amazing underwater world, where they get to see incredible sea life from all over the planet, from the coast of Britain and the chilly Antarctic, to the tropical waters of the Caribbean.

The aquarium is home to over 2,000 creatures, such as sharks, including the UK’s only hammerhead sharks, as well as a rescued Giant Green Sea Turtle, otters, jellyfish, piranha, octopus and rays.
Discounts are available for pre-booked tickets to see Penguin Ice Adventure. For further information or to book tickets please visit

The National SEA LIFE Centre Birmingham is located in Brindley Place. Opening times are 10am-5pm on Monday to Friday and 10am-6pm at weekends.


New Living Planet Aquarium features prominent penguin museum

15 hours ago  • 

A chorus of distinct honks reverberates in the room as Danielle Angel, a keeper at the Loveland Living Aquarium, greets her 11 Gentoo penguins. "It's like they're my friends, my little friends," Angel said. "They can't talk back to me, but we have a relationship."

Angel works full time on the Animal Husbandry staff at the new location of the Living Planet Aquarium, now titled the Loveland Living Planet Aquarium, located just on the other side of the Utah County line in Draper. The new building took two years to build from the ground up, and the new aquarium, now the ninth-largest aquarium in the nation, opened on March 25.

 The new location features a rotating exhibit, a theater, event facilities and more than a million gallons of water. "It's really exciting, all of our exhibits are just so much bigger. So that makes me really happy for our animals," Angel said.

The new aquarium has a larger, more prominent penguin exhibit, themed like a research facility. The exhibit features the same birds and has a 63,000-gallon tank with two viewing areas for guests.
On the upper level, guests can watch the penguins feed, dive in and out of the pool, and nest together during mating season, which typically happens in the late-spring. The exhibit's lower level has a large, curved glass panel that lets guests watch the penguins swim and dive in and out of the water
Taking care of the penguins alone is nearly a full-time job, and Angel, along with three other full-time keepers and a handful of volunteers, also care for the rest of aquarium's endotherms, or warm-blooded animals. Angel keeps an eye on several pair of ducks, and some free-flying birds in the South American exhibit, but mainly splits her time between the Gentoo Penguins and the North American River Otters.

Angel spends so much time with the birds that she can now identify each of the 11 sub-Antarctic birds, their personalities and their habits. "We have Ghost-Rider who is sort of our bully of the group," Angel said. "He likes to make you hurry up when it's feeding time by biting you in the shin and he'll push the other penguins in the pool."

On the other end of the spectrum from Ghost-Rider, one of the aquarium's largest penguins, Gossamer, is shy and gentle. "He never pushes and shoves no matter how hungry he is and he waits his turn patiently," Angel said. "His mate is one of our smaller penguins and she sort of pushes him around during breeding season, it's pretty cute watching them together."

Though Angel has developed a close relationship with the penguins, she said she doesn't have quite the same relationship with the otters. "They are pretty much teenage boys, off on their own and very independent," Angel said.

Karli Healy, a past intern at the Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City, recently became staff in Animal Husbandry at the aquarium during the move from location to location. She's had the same experience getting to know the animals' personalities in her short time as a keeper. She splits her time between freshwater fish and the endotherms with Angel. "I've gotten to know more fish better, as weird as that sounds," Healy said with a laugh. "This one will eat really well and you can tell when he's hungry, and this one is a little more shy and will hide in the corner."

The two keepers have a packed routine caring for the animals, beginning at 8 a.m. every morning.  First, they do a walk-through to make sure the animals look healthy, are in their proper spots, and are ready for the day. Next, they check all the support systems, like the filters for the penguins' salt water tank. Around 9 a.m. the keepers begin the first cleaning of the day, which usually involves scrubbing the ducks' land enclosures.

Next are the otters, which have to be contained to different parts of their enclosure while their habitat is sprayed, cleaned and wiped down. The complicated process lasts about an hour, finishing with some fish scattered around for their first meal.

Finally, the penguins' habitat is scrubbed, cleaned and rinsed. A bucket of Capelin, a type of small fish, is brought in. One fish, with a vitamin inserted in its gills, is given to each penguin and the keeper has to keep track of who got one and who didn't in a mass of flapping, wrestling and honking. After the birds are hand fed a bit of fish, the first of two feedings is over.

Many hours a day are spent in the food preparation room. Fish need to be thawed, rinsed, and organized every day for the next day's feedings. The keepers precisely inspect every fish as they are placed in a bucket, to ensure no fish that could harm the birds, such as poisonous puffer fish, made it into the catch. The penguins are picky, and if a fish is broken, or less than perfect, it is tossed in a bucket for the otters.

The Gentoos will usually eat 10 percent of their body weight a day, about a pound and a half. In certain months before molting, they'll even eat up to 30 percent. This adds up to much more time spent preparing the food than spending time with the animals.

However, both Angel and Healy agree the work is worth it. "It's great just taking care of the animals, and that in itself is rewarding, but seeing other people appreciate them as much as you do is really fulfilling," Angel said about seeing people light up as they roamed the new facilities. "Its really cool to be able to really understand the animals and feel like they understand you, at least a small amount," Healy said.


Saturday, March 29, 2014

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Female Baby Penguin Has Triumphant 'Gender-Reveal' Party in Chicago

Female Baby Penguin Has Triumphant 'Gender-Reveal' Party in Chicago
A baby penguin born at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago has been identified as a girl. 

HA. TAKE THAT, PATRIARCHY! According to NBC, the aquarium hosted a "gender-reveal party" to make the announcement. The chick (chick as baby bird, not chick as in what a really old dude in a bar drunkenly calls you ) was born in June.
Male and female African penguins, including the Rockhopper breed, appear physically the same, so the Shedd's veterinary team had to use DNA testing to figure out the gender.
The Shedd houses two kinds of penguins now: the Rockhopper penguin and the Magellanic penguin. Rockhopper penguins are known for their small stature, glowing red eyes, yellow plumes sprouting from their eyebrows and the tendency to jump in the water feet first. The rest of the penguins at the Shedd are preparing for another breeding season now. The Rockhopper penguin is listed as a vulnerable species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
So, this little baby chick Rockhopper is officially a girl. Congratulations. (FYI "Rockhopper" is what Kate Winslet plans to name her next child.)

Is this big news? I don't know. Maybe. But we've been reporting on rapes, violent crimes, sad breakups, gross sexism, stupid laws, the literal obliteration of women from the pages of history, so you know what? IT'S TIME FOR A GODDAMN BABY PENGUIN. Seriously, we need more baby penguins! All your baby penguins are belong to us! 

Images of the Day

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Penguin party at Edinburgh Zoo

Bruce the penguin was treated to a special meal in celebration of his namesake's 58th birthday. 
Zuzana Brezinová
Tuesday, 25 March, 2014 |
Credit: Edinburgh Zoo
Related Articles
Edinburgh Zoo has been pampering Bruce the rockhopper penguin, in celebration of his Hollywood namesake's birthday.

Bruce Willis turned 58 on Wednesday 19 March, so keepers treated Bruce the penguin to special sprats in honour of the occasion.

Bruce arrived at Edinburgh Zoo in March 2012, and since then has become a firm favourite, thanks to his nosy attitude and desire to always be in the thick of things.

Dawn Nicoll, senior keeper for Penguins at Edinburgh Zoo, explained that when Bruce first arrived he was still very young, and hadn't developed the yellow crest that his breed are famous for.

Nicoll stated that this made him look "a little bald" compared to the other rockhopper penguins, inspiring staff to name him after one of Hollywood’s most famous bald men.

Nicoll said: "Bruce may be pint-sized, but he has loads of attitude – he is a real character! Penguins are already naturally curious, but Bruce takes it to the next level and he always wants to be involved in everything."

It is hoped that as a young, healthy male, Bruce will soon become a father. Keepers have reported that he has even been seen sharing affections with a young female rockhopper penguin.

Northern rockhoppers are endangered in the wild, with a decline of over 90 per cent of the population in the past 45 years, due in part to a devastating oil spill in 2011.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the first arrival of penguins at Edinburgh Zoo and in Europe. On 25 January 1914, four king penguins, a gentoo penguin and a macaroni penguin arrived at Leith Docks to be taken to their new home at Edinburgh Zoo.

Edinburgh Zoo is also home to the world’s highest ranking penguin. Sir Nils Olav, a king penguin, is the mascot for the Royal Norwegian Guard and after working his way up the ranks was knighted in 2008.


Image of the Day 

Isabelline gentoo penguin chick trying to blend in with the other chicks. Photo by Jerry Gillham.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Speechless | Adelie Penguins in a Snowstorm (Video)

Ross Sea resounds to many happy feet

By Matthew Backhouse

Adelie penguins use pack ice for safety. Photo / Phil Lyver
Adelie penguins use pack ice for safety. Photo / Phil Lyver
The Adelie penguin population in Antarctica's Ross Sea has boomed to an estimated 30-year high, despite signs that climate change is driving population declines elsewhere on the continent. New Zealand researchers have been tracking the Ross Sea population of the penguin - an indicator species for climate change - using aerial counts since the 1980s.

The latest results, published this month in the US science journal PLOS ONE, show the population on Ross Island has steadily increased by about 6 per cent a year since 2001. The researchers concluded the mean population between 1981 to 2012 was 855,625 breeding pairs. The current estimate of one million breeding pairs is up 16.9 per cent on the 30-year average.

By contrast, Adelie populations have been in decline on the West Antarctic Peninsula because of warming, a loss of sea ice and a drop in the abundance of their primary prey, Antarctic krill. Landcare Research scientist Dr Phil Lyver, who collaborated on the research with Antarctica New Zealand and others, said the growth of Ross Sea colonies in the past decade was the highest it had ever been.
Adelie penguins are living on the right side of the Antarctic. Picture / Rob McPhail
Adelie penguins are living on the right side of the Antarctic. Picture / Rob McPhail
Researchers were now trying to figure out why the population had increased after two decades of declining at about 2 per cent a year during the 1980s and 1990s. The Ross Sea population reached its lowest point in 2001, when giant icebergs arrived and altered the local sea ice and environmental conditions in McMurdo Sound. Dr Lyver said the high level of correlation between changes in the different Ross Sea colonies suggested a common cause.  "There's obviously something driving this, and that's what we wanted to use this paper for - to set the platform for the second piece of work, which is around trying to identify that."

Dr Lyver said one possibility was the increase, in both extent and duration, of sea ice in the Ross Sea area. The growth was in contrast to other parts of Antarctica, where sea ice was decreasing. "Adelie penguins, which we're looking at, rely a lot on sea ice in terms of providing a platform for security, in terms of getting out of the water, but also for krill - it's a krill nursery. So it could be that the food availability is getting greater."

Another theory was that fishing of the toothfish - the top predator in the system - was removing pressure on the Antarctic silverfish, which penguins also ate. The researchers concluded that Ross Sea colonies of Adelie penguin could be the last to benefit from the presence of sea ice, if current climate trends continued. Previous research has predicted 75 per cent of Adelie penguin colonies above the 70th parallel south would decrease or disappear by 2050. However, the Ross Sea colonies were below that parallel.

Results from the latest aerial survey, carried out over the past summer, are not expected for another two months. However, Dr Lyver estimated there could now be more than a million breeding pairs in the western Ross Sea - the highest level in 30 years. This summer's aerial survey was the first time the entire Ross Sea census was conducted by helicopter.


‘Waddle it be’ — a young female penguin

The Shedd Aquarium hosted a “waddle it be?” party to announce whether its youngest penguin is male or female. 

With a show of hands, most aquarium visitors voted Friday that the bird was female. And Shedd Aquarium manager Lana Vanagasem sliced open a penguin-frosted cake to reveal a pink center — meaning the majority was right. “We were really happy to find out Rockhopper 22 [the penguin] was a female,” Vanagasem said. 

Females make up 70 percent of the penguin collection but males rank higher among the rockhopper penguins, according to Shedd Aquarium spokeswoman Nicole Minadeo. Ninety chicks have hatched at the aquarium over the last 20 years. 

On Friday, Rockhopper 22 stood on a rock in the center of the penguin zone, its rockhopper distinguishing yellow feathers beginning to grow around the eyes. The aquarium staff currently refers to the penguin as Rockhopper 22, but this April aquarium members will have the opportunity to help choose her name.

The healthy, five pound penguin was born June 12, 2013, and three months later, she was fully grown and out of the nest, according to Dr. Caryn Poll, senior staff veterinarian. 

Since there is no visible feature to determine penguins’ gender, the Shedd Aquarium sent Rockhopper 22’s blood sample for DNA testing.

Birds have Z and W chromosomes, Poll said. Females, like Rockhopper 22, have a ZW combination, and males have a ZZ combination, which means female birds determine gender, Poll added.

Although penguins are usually monogamous, that wasn’t the case with Rockhopper 22’s parents, Rockhopper 51 and 53, according to Vanagasem. Sometimes penguins will switch mates, Vanagasem said. “It’s a little bit of a soap opera every season to see who will end up with who,” she said.

Shedd Aquarium visitors learned Monday that the new penguin was a female. 

Adorable Antarctic Penguins Entertain Sea Shepherd Crew During Whale Defense Campaign (PHOTOS)

Sea Shepherd’s ships have been busy protecting the waters of Antarctica’s Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary from Japanese whalers for the last year as a part of the nonprofit’s tenth whale defense expedition, Operation Relentless.

Year after year, the organization’s fleet heads out to these chilly, southern waters in an attempt to thwart Japan’s whaling poaching activities. The journey is often challenging and dangerous. Sea Shepherd reports that their Operation Relentless team encountered three “unprovoked nighttime ambushes by the Japanese whaling fleet.”

While stress levels may often be high during these expeditions, the Sea Shepherd crew does manage to find some time to enjoy the natural beauty around them.

During Operation Relentless, Sea Shepherd’s team had the pleasure of “meeting” some of Antarctica’s most well-known characters – penguins.

As Sea Shepherd Global reports, the penguins “put a smile on the face of many a crew member as the Sea Shepherd Fleet fought to defend the sanctity of the region during Operation Relentless.”

Get acquainted with some of the Antarctic’s penguins with the photos below, courtesy of Sea
Shepherd’s Operation Relentless team members:

Adorable Antarctic Penguins Entertain Sea Shepherd Crew During Whale Defense Campaign (PHOTOS) Tim Watters / Sea Shepherd Global
Adorable Antarctic Penguins Entertain Sea Shepherd Crew During Whale Defense Campaign (PHOTOS) Tim Watters / Sea Shepherd Global
Adorable Antarctic Penguins Entertain Sea Shepherd Crew During Whale Defense Campaign (PHOTOS) Tim Watters / Sea Shepherd Global
Adorable Antarctic Penguins Entertain Sea Shepherd Crew During Whale Defense Campaign (PHOTOS) Tim Watters / Sea Shepherd Global
Adorable Antarctic Penguins Entertain Sea Shepherd Crew During Whale Defense Campaign (PHOTOS) Tim Watters / Sea Shepherd Global
Adorable Antarctic Penguins Entertain Sea Shepherd Crew During Whale Defense Campaign (PHOTOS) Andrew J. Correll / Sea Shepherd Global
Adorable Antarctic Penguins Entertain Sea Shepherd Crew During Whale Defense Campaign (PHOTOS) Andrew J. Correll / Sea Shepherd Global
Adorable Antarctic Penguins Entertain Sea Shepherd Crew During Whale Defense Campaign (PHOTOS) Andrew J. Correll / Sea Shepherd Global
Adorable Antarctic Penguins Entertain Sea Shepherd Crew During Whale Defense Campaign (PHOTOS) Andrew J. Correll / Sea Shepherd Global
Lead image source: Andrew J. Correll / Sea Shepherd Global


Image of the Day

DSC06854 by muzina_shanghai
DSC06854, a photo by muzina_shanghai on Flickr.
Just must swim...