Monday, June 30, 2014

Penguins of the Day

No, it's not snowing; that's simply a group penguin molt occurring in this Gentoo colony.

Penguin Planet at Gulf Coast Exploreum

Penguin planet
Meet the penguins at Gulf Coast Exploreum, (Gulf Coast Exploreum)

By Tamara Ikenberg |
on June 30, 2014

MOBILE, Alabama -- Four African black-footed penguins are about to become residents of the Gulf Coast Exploreum.

On Friday, July 4, the Penguin Planet exhibit will debut at the Exploreum. The endangered penguins will remain through early January 2015.

Sponsored by PNC Bank, Penguin Planet will feature a unique tank created to emulate the penguins' natural habitat.

The exhibit will also include educational displays with facts about the Exploreum's new guests, as well as other penguins from around the world. It will also shed light on how human actions impact the success of the species.

In addition, special trainers will deliver hourly talks about the penguins, which will teach visitors about the penguins' markings, eating habits and more. "We are very excited to offer to the public this unique opportunity to view penguins up-close and to connect with information about this endangered South African species," Donald Comeaux Jr., Assistant Director and Interim Executive Director of the Gulf Coast Exploreum said in a press release. "The educational components of Penguin Planet will allow visitors to engage with current conservation efforts to save the African penguin. There are an estimated 75,000 African penguins left in the wild so it is critical to change environmental practices in order to allow their declining numbers to stabilize."

Visitors will also have the chance to take part in personalized behind-the-scenes penguin encounters.
For more information, call 251-208-6873. The Gulf Coast Exploreum is located at 65 Government St. in downtown Mobile. To learn more, visit


Saturday, June 28, 2014

Penguin of the Day



Southern rockhopper penguin group (Eudyptes chrysocome)

(I believe these penguins are a cross breed: Southern x Northern rockhopper penguins)

Friday, June 27, 2014

Baby penguins at Oregon Zoo emerge from nests, start to swim (video)

Humboldt penguin chick
A Humboldt penguin chick explores the Oregon Zoo Penguinarium. (Oregon Zoo/ photo by Shervin Hess)

By Melissa Binder
on June 27, 2014
Three penguin chicks at the Oregon Zoo have emerged from their nests and are exploring their surroundings.

The Humboldt penguin chicks hatched in March. The chicks usually fledge at about 3 months old.
The chicks -- named Aqua, Xolas and Olle -- are almost as tall as the adult birds, but are gray and lack the tuxedo pattern. They'll grow into that outfit in a couple of years.

Wild Humboldt penguins live along the coast of Peru and Chile. The birds are classified as "vulnerable" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, according to a release from the zoo, and were granted protection in 2010 under the United States Endangered Species Act.

Oregon Zoo visitors can see the young birds waddling around and swimming in the penguinarium, which was recently received upgrades to its water-filtration system as part of the 2008 bond measure.
Take a look at this video of the baby penguins swimming


Antarctica Is Actually An Amazingly Colourful Place

Antarctica is actually an amazingly colourful place
If you thought Antarctica was a shell of frozen white and blue, that a look at these surprisingly colourful pictures by photographer Gaston Lacombe. Taken over a two-month visit to the continent, the white is painted by brushes of algae, penguin poo and krill. He told us how this hue magic happens.

Antarctica is actually an amazingly colourful place 
Antarctica is actually an amazingly colourful place 
Antarctica is actually an amazingly colourful place 
Antarctica is actually an amazingly colourful place 
Antarctica is actually an amazingly colourful place 
Antarctica is actually an amazingly colourful place 
Antarctica is actually an amazingly colourful place 
Antarctica is actually an amazingly colourful place 
Antarctica is actually an amazingly colourful place
When I was invited by the government of Argentina to be an artist-in-residence on one of their bases in Antarctica, I was planning for many days photographing a bleak, white landscape, since that is the image we are always presented of this faraway continent. Instead, I found a place full of life and colour. I was not photographing from a boat, as nearly all other photographers who visit Antarctica do, instead, I was living and experiencing this place from land, day after day, throughout the Antarctic summer.
During the summer months, as the sun shines and winds blow, the landscape can change its appearance in a matter of minutes. Microscopic algae lives in the snow and ice, and when the sun warms the surface of the glaciers, these plants bloom in huge plumes of red and green, colouring the glacier’s surface like splashes of paint. I even once saw the glacier next to the base turn completely red, but only for a few fleeting hours. As soon as the cold returns, the microscopic algae return to a dormant state inside of the ice.
The penguins also do a great job of painting the landscape, dragging all sorts of colours with their feet as they shuffle between the nesting colony and the beach. Going to and from the beach, the penguins drag mud around, tracing trails of various shades of brown and orange all over the snowy surface. Then, most notably, the penguins bring a lot of pink to the environment. They eat krill, which is a small type of shrimp. The krill is pink when they eat, and it is also pink when it comes out of the other side. Yes, penguin poo is pink, and this sludge covers the whole colony. So, as penguins leave the colony, they trail a lot of pink around with their feet, tracing highways of pink all over the snow and glaciers.
I was very fortunate to have all of this time to think about new ways to show the place, and return to the same photogenic spots day after day. Since we all know what penguins look like, I was trying to find a new, more innovative way to photograph them. I found a cliff overlooking the penguin colony, from where I could see the coming and goings of the penguins from a distance. I started to concentrate more on the penguins as elements in the landscape, that create patterns and movement, instead of on them as individual animals. That is when I created what I call my “Penguinscapes,” which look at the multitude of penguins more as a design element in the landscape.
Antarctica in general is not necessarily an obvious place to photograph. It’s mostly a lot of rocks and ice. It took me a while to start seeing and appreciating the changing landscapes, and to develop the patience to find the best locations, the best times, and extract photos from these situations. In fact, my first few weeks there were quite disappointing, since I was looking for the obvious, and not adjusting my way of looking through the viewfinder. It would have been the easiest thing in the world to take a few photos of icebergs and call it a day. Instead, I started to walk long distances everyday, always within the accepted and safe boundaries of the base, sometimes 12-14 hours a day, looking for new ways to photograph this still little-known continent.
The one issue I had was with my computer which promptly died as soon as I arrived in Antarctica. With the radio communications guy at the base we were able to fix the fried circuits enough so that I could upload my files to a hard drive, but I was not able to look through my photos while I was there. I came back with over 20,000 un-edited stills, and about 30 hours of video. It then took me nearly 3 months just to look through all of that material.
Gaston Lacombe is an award-wining photographer and filmmaker specializing in documentary projects. Born in Canada, he is now based in Washington DC. He studied holds a B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. in History as well as a degree in Photography.
His main interests include travel, exploring the often complicated relationship between people and animals, and the preservation of human memory. He is also the Communications Coordinator for the International League of Conservation Photographers.
You can visit Gaston’s website, read or purchase his blurb book about his trip to Antarctica or order prints by emailing him directly.


Penguin Update from Dr. Dee Boersma

Dear penguin followers-

Summer is here and maybe you or someone you know are off to the Galápagos Islands. We are happy to announce the launch of our new website,, a project using photographs for research and conservation. We seek pictures of Galápagos penguins. Pictures may be worth 1000 words as they can tell us when penguins are molting, when juveniles are present, and when penguins are mostly foraging at sea. To help us, please visit and upload your photos. We will need the date and location of your picture. The website has links to our social media and YouTube. We built 120 nests on the Galápagos and so far 9 have had eggs and chicks. Thanks for helping us spread the word. We’ve also added new videos to our YouTube channel. There you can watch short videos that my students made using footage I took in Argentina, the Galápagos, South Africa, and New Zealand. Videos are broken into six categories called Punta Tombo, Galápagos, Penguins of S. Africa, Penguins of New Zealand, Climate Change, and World Penguin Day. Stories range from oiled penguin rehabilitation to a yellow-eyed vs. blue penguin rap.


P. Dee Boersma, Ph.D
Director, Center for Penguins as Ocean Sentinels
Wadsworth Endowed Chair in Conservation Science
Department of Biology
24 Kincaid Hall, Box 351800
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195-1800
Phone: 206-616-2185

Penguins of the Day

'Keep penguin experience free' - group



peter bennett
SIGN OF THE TIMES: Penguin spotter Peter Bennett is keen to protect Timaru's penguins and make them free for the public to view.  MYTCHALL BRANSGROVE/ Fairfax NZ

Timaru penguin supporters are doing their bit to protect the birds from commercialisation.
A group of 15 people, who plan to form a committee over the coming weeks, are focused on giving people a chance to see the birds at no charge, group member Peter Bennett said. "The Marine Parade location is the ideal area to safely observe them, with signage and minimal barriers to educate people to give them space. It's all about giving them the opportunity to become a visitor attraction in Timaru."

An annual count of the birds late last year found there were 42 adults and 11 chicks. The previous year there were 50 recorded. Bennett said he was not sure exactly how many penguins there were in Timaru, despite the annual counts. Those involved in the count can only record the number of penguins they see. "That's the unknown question," Bennett said, of the exact number. It's very probable there's a lot more than we know." Bennett said penguins had set up homes along Waimataitai Beach, the North Mole and South Beach. "There's certainly good numbers in those areas."

Signs have been placed at Marine Parade, informing visitors about the penguins. "We want more signage to say you are free to view the penguins ... but please give them space - they are a wild animal but give them some freedom."

The group is also trying to identify what predators there are, if any. Bennett said dogs were able to run free in the area during the winter months, which could prove a risk to the penguins. He was keen to have something in place, which would stop dogs from running across the rocks where the penguins live, particularly when they are starting to nest, he said.

Bennett is pleased with the success of the group so far, which was still gaining public interest. "It's quite surprising how many people have an interest in making things happen. I think we've got a little gem here in Timaru with not a lot of effort."

The newly-formed group includes representatives from Timaru District Council, Department of Conservation, Environment Canterbury, Forest & Bird, and the Timaru Port.
The group will meet again at the RSA at 7.30pm on July 8.


Victor Harbor mayor fights for penguins

VICTOR HARBOR - The possibility of Little Penguins becoming extinct is becoming the biggest fear of City of Victor Harbor mayor Graham Philp. "Extinction is forever and I am becoming frustrated that the government is not looking at reports of the past and not reacting to the risks associated with Little Penguins on Granite Island and Kangaroo Island," Mr Philp said. "Flinders University were charged with counting Little Penguins on Granite Island, Kangaroo Island and also Troubridge Island and this report is still to be approved for release by the Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges NRM Board."

At the City of Victor Harbor council meeting on Monday, June 23 elected members passed a motion to request the Local Government Association to lobby the state government to initiate a breeding program of Little Penguins from identified populations to ensure longevity of their unique DNA and to introduce a management plan and implement strategies for the control of New Zealand Fur Seals.
Councillors Bob Marshall and Barbara Bond were against the motion and Cr Marshall moved a motion for an adjournment until the next council meeting on July 28, where a presentation could occur from a marine biologist recommended by the Conservation Council of SA. The motion was defeated. "While we do more studies we lose a penguin," councillor Tim Telfer said. "Act now before we lose the lot."

Fifteen years ago there were 1500 Little Penguins on Granite Island, in 2011 it dropped to 102, 2012 to 26 and at the 2013 census, which is yet to be released there was "evidence" of 35. "Since the awareness campaign began, it was soon realised that the Little Penguin populations across South Australia were generally in sharp decline," Mr Philp said. "This has not gone unnoticed as South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) have instigated three reports on what is happening to our Little Penguins.

These reports were released in 2007, 2010 and 2011. The report in 2007 focused solely on the Little Penguin colony on Granite Island and concluded that the decline could be due primarily to the very significant levels of predation by local New Zealand Fur Seals. "Their population has increased rapidly over the last 20 years."

Mr Philp described the local Little Penguin colony as an iconic species in the region, and a major tourism attraction which brings in significant economic revenue. He said all of SARDI's reports show it is a statewide problem.

A community investigation revealed the penguin colonies in the vicinity of Robe and Kingston have also been reduced dramatically and New Zealand Fur Seals have also increased in numbers in this area, while on the West Coast at Pearson Island, which had 12,000 penguins living on it in 2006, reports are that the population has been decimated. "We are unable to know exactly how far they have declined, but we know that about eight Little Penguin colonies are now extinct on Kangaroo Island," Mr Philp said. "Scientists have attributed this to the increase in the population of New Zealand Fur Seals. "This may have been because the New Zealand Fur Seals eat penguins but may also be attributed to them competing for the same food source. "With the decline so dramatic and their gene pool so limited there needs to be a breeding program put in place to ensure their survival."

The Little Penguin colony on Troubridge Island off the Yorke Peninsula is also under threat according to Mr Philp, with numbers dropping from more than 3000 birds to 1200. "Again SARDI concluded New Zealand Fur Seals are the possible causes of the extinction or decline of many colonies," Mr Philp said. "Dr Dianne Colombelli-Negri, Penguin Ecologist at Flinders University and Professor Sonia Kleindorfer, School of Biological Sciences, Flinders University said the problems for the Little Penguins are at sea and that there is evidence of three major threats and they are predation by fur seals, starvation and parasites."

A penguin picks up some skills

Margo the Magellanic penguin chick being held by Blackpool Zoo's head of birds, Johnpaul Houston, and the other bird keepers
Margo the Magellanic penguin chick being held by Blackpool Zoo's head of birds, Johnpaul Houston, and the other bird keepers
This unique little youngster has got an important life lesson to learn – how to be a penguin.
While it might look like it should come naturally, the country’s only Magellanic penguin chick is being hand-reared by keepers at Blackpool Zoo so things can be confusing. The chick was removed from its parents while still an egg, after being laid in an 
area that left it susceptible to predators.

But birds ‘imprint’ on the first thing they see, meaning they become attached to the identity of that human or animal, so now specialist bird keepers are working around the clock to ensure Margo grows up knowing its penguin status. This includes bolstering the baby with a 
super food diet of fishy milkshakes and giving a host of special lessons, from giving the chick a mirror to see its own reflection, to swimming lessons in the bird nursery and visits to see other 

Head of birds John Paul Houston said: “We were 
delighted when Margo hatched and we have been working around the clock to ensure it stays fit and healthy. “We don’t know the sex of the chick yet and this is determined through DNA testing, but we have decided to call it Margo after a friend of mine who shares its birthday. As birds imprint on the first thing they see it is vital we ensure that Margo understands what species he or she is.”

Blackpool Zoo is the only one in the country to house this species of penguin, characterised by their short, wedge shaped tails and long narrow wings used like paddles when they are swimming.
And the Zoo’s bird team have a good history of hand-rearing chicks, with last year’s 
‘graduates’ Gandalf and Pippin flourishing in the attraction’s Active Oceans Arena.

Since the colony of Magellanic penguins joined the East Park Drive zoo in 2009, keepers have also celebrated multiple parent-reared youngsters.  Mr Houston added: “As well as using the mirror to show Margo his or her 
reflection we will be introducing it to last year’s hand-rearing graduates Gandalf and Pippin. “We are really pleased with the progress we have made and are sure that Margo will win the hearts of visitors over the summer.”


How king penguin chicks know their place

‘King penguin colonies are very crowded and can stretch for more than 1km on the relatively flat and featureless beaches, yet individuals know how to find their place within such colonies’ ‘King penguin colonies are very crowded and can stretch for more than 1km on the relatively flat and featureless beaches, yet individuals know how to find their place within such colonies’

Displaced penguin chicks navigate well in pairs as they find their way back to base in their colony, according to a new study. King penguin chicks gather together in “creches” as they wait for parents to return with food, and if a chick gets moved to a different place in the colony it is important to get back so that the parents can find it, says researcher Anna Nesterova from the University of Oxford.
“King penguin colonies are very crowded and can stretch for more than 1km on the relatively flat and featureless beaches, yet individuals know how to find their place within such colonies,” she says.
Nesterova and colleagues tracked 31 pairs of chicks that were artificially separated from their creches as they made their way back to the correct part of the Ratmanoff colony on the Kerguelen Islands in the southern Indian Ocean. 

The chicks navigated well in pairs, and even took turns leading in some cases. Also, pairs from the same creche arrived closer to their original location than pairs where the individual chicks were from different creches. 

The study, which was funded by the Institut Polaire Français and Marie Curie Actions and published in Animal Behaviour, will help us to better understand group navigation in animals, according to Nesterova, who was surprised at how quickly the chicks from different creches split up along their path back. “The chicks like to be in a group, but going towards the right destination seems to be more important,” she says. “It makes sense: if you do not know where your partner is heading, it is better not to take the risk and end up at the wrong end of the colony.”

Finding elusive emperor penguins

Posted By News On June 25, 2014
Finding elusive emperor penguins

This image shows the Eastern colony at the edge of the Mertz Glacier.
(Photo Credit: Robin Cristofari, CNRS/IPEV)

Field surveys and satellites complement each other when studying remote penguin populations, according to research published June 25 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by André Ancel from the CNRS at Strasbourg and colleagues.

Penguins residing on Antarctica's ice sheets must face moving, breaking, and shifting ice. Accurate monitoring of population trends is critical to understanding the ongoing rapid changes in Antarctic ecosystems. However, the remoteness and logistical complexity of operating in Antarctica, especially during winter, can make such an assessment difficult. Satellite imaging is being increasingly recognized as a valuable method for remote animal population monitoring, yet its accuracy and reliability are still to be fully evaluated. In this study, the authors report on several successive remote surveys in the coastal region of East Antarctica, both before and after sudden local changes. Additionally, they describe the first ground visit of an emperor penguin colony initially discovered by satellite.
The ground survey resulted in the discovery of a second penguin colony not indicated by satellite survey. The researchers found that these two colonies, with a total of ~ 7,400 breeding pairs, are located near the Mertz Glacier in an area that underwent tremendous habitat change after the glacier tongue broke off in February 2010. The authors suggest these penguins have considerable potential for rapid adaptation to sudden habitat loss, as the colony detected in 2009 may have moved and settled in new breeding grounds. Overall, the ability of emperor penguin colonies to relocate following habitat modification underlines the continued need for a mixture of both remote sensing and field surveys, especially in the less-frequented parts of Antarctica, to gain reliable knowledge about penguin populations.

Source: PLOS

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Penguin of the Day

Snares penguin (Eudyptes robustus),

How French Gained, Lost, And Then Regained the Word for "Penguin"

How French Gained, Lost, And Then Regained the Word for "Penguin"
Languages constantly shed old words and pick up new ones as their needs change, but sometimes — like in the case of deciding what a penguin should be called in French — a language will do both.
Top image: The Great Auk / John James Audubon, University of Pittsburgh

In response to this article on the "false friends" that can lull language students into believing that they've found an English loanword only to pull the rug out right from under them, commenters began sharing some of the examples they've come across from a variety of lexicons. Including the strange case of how French gained, lost, and then got back the word for penguin:
Technically, "Pingouin" is Puffin and Pinguin is "Manchot". However, in Quebec, a lot of people will use " Pinguouin" for "Pinguin"
The "pingouin" example is very interesting, because it really refers to an extinct animal, the Great Penguin that was overhunted into oblivion off the atlantic coast of France around 1844. When navigators first sailed the artic, they believed to have found "small penguins" and the name stuck.
There used to be an other word for puffin in old french "alcot" but both the extinction of the Great Penguin and the growing influence of english caused most french people to use "pingouin" for all flightless sea birds. The term "manchot" (handless) was only introduced later by naturalists in an attempt to differenciate the two species. Nowadays the Emperor Penguin is named "Manchot empereur" in french.


Aquarium of the Pacific welcomes one cute chick

Everything's Coming Up Baby Penguins - Did you see penguins Floyd and Roxy's first chick say hello?

By Alysia Gray Painter

|  Monday, Jun 23, 2014  |

LBC Aww: Everything's Coming Up Baby Penguins
Robin Riggs

A Magellanic penguin chick born to Kate and Avery made its debut earlier in June at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach.
Every day is Penguin Day in Antarctica and penguin-rich spots around the Southern Hemisphere. Truth? Fact. 
But, truly, some top-hatted, suit-wearing, certificate-waving dignitary needs to designate Long Beach as Penguin City and June as Penguin Month.

Okay, so that's probably more the perky plot of a big budget animated film, but real-life mavens of real-life Magellanic Penguins can honor the month, which has been penguin-packed one, at the Aquarium of the Pacific.

The star birds have waddled, in their inimitable way, each morning in June on the oh-so-snapshot-able Penguin Walk through the institution's Northern Pacific Gallery. That alone could rally some official to name the month Penguin Month down LBC way, we thinks.

But the penguin plot thickens or, more accurately, grows cuter: A couple of penguin pairs, duos who call the aquarium home, have welcomed chicks (or are in the process of doing so). Penguins Patsy and Noodles had a chick earlier in June, as did Kate and Avery.

All four penguins are first-time parents.

And where are the downy infants? They're in "nest burrows" inside the aquarium's June Keyes Penguin Habitat. The institutions "expects the chicks to be on public view when they leave their nests and join the other birds in the main areas of the penguin habitat later this summer."

There are still more penguin babies to come, however. One "pipped" -- that means put a hole in the egg's shell, we're sure you already know -- on June 23. It's the "first egg of the season" for Floyd and Roxy, but if you didn't see the chick put beak to shell, stayed tuned: There's another egg in the next and a webcam catching all the avian action.

Yep, June, you really are remarkably penguin-y. But we don't need a certificate or official holiday to make it Penguin Month in our heart -- we only need to watch the webcam for the next happy hatchling.

Penguin, crane chicks arrive at Lowry Park Zoo


Tampa, Florida -- Spring has been a busy time for the aviary at Lowry Park Zoo with several new birds, including a penguin chick and a demoiselle crane.

An endangered African penguin chick hatched June 2 to fourth-time parents Thumbelina and Flannigan, who have been paired for several years, according to the zoo. The new chick will be cared for by its parents then a zookeeper to increase its independence and ability to swim, before joining the colony. The new chick will be easy to spot when it joins the main exhibit because it has dark gray juvenile plumage.

Also this month, a demoiselle crane chick hatched June 4, the second one in the last year. The first chick, a male, was fostered by two Florida sandhill cranes, the zoo said. This technique has been used in bird species when parent birds lack experience. The newest chick is being reared by a parent and can be seen in the Sulawesi Aviary in the Asian Gardens habitat.

There have been several others additions to the aviary department this spring: Two Nicobar pigeon chicks in March/April, who fledged in May/June); two red-legged seriema chicks on June 7; Ttwo spotted whistling duck chicks on June 18; and an endangered Tarictic hornbill chick in April, who fledged on June 10.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Penguin of the Day

Gentoo Penguin 

Gentoo chick celebrates life

As Summer Begins, Maryland Zoo Monitors Penguins For Malaria

BALTIMORE (WJZ)–All our recent heavy rains and warmer temperatures are posing a threat to an unlikely victim, the penguin.

This reporter has more on why this time of year puts penguins at the Maryland Zoo at risk. It’s a parasitic disease most often connected with the tropics, but it’s here. And penguins are vulnerable.

They’ve drawn crowds for decades at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, especially when they make up their own crow. When it comes to penguins  . . .

“Yeah. They’re cute,” one girl said.
“They’re very interesting,” one boy said.
“We love the penguins. Do you like the penguins,” one mom said.
“Yes,” her daughter replied.


Friday, June 20, 2014

Penguin of the Day (Say Awww....)

Emperor Penguin Chick/Getty images

Pointe Géologie: 'March of the Penguins' Isn't That Difficult After All

emperor penguins
Emperor penguins do not go to breed in the same place every year.sandwich/Flickr
The emperor penguin colony featured in the award-winning documentary March of the Penguins does not make the same difficult trip to breed every year, scientists have discovered. Researchers at the University of Minnesota used satellite images to map the real march of the penguins over several years. It was previously believed that the Pointe Géologie colony of emperor penguins from the film would return to the same location every year to breed.

baby penguinThis colony has been studied for over 60 years and in recent times, researchers have become increasingly concerned that retreating sea ice will have an adverse effect on the colony. In the late 1970s, the Pointe Géologie population declined by half, which was thought to have been due to poor survival rates as a result of warming temperatures.

However, the researchers have now found this is not necessarily the case, with researchers discovering penguins may have adapted to the changing environment better than expected. Penguins from the Pointe Géologie sometimes visit different areas to have chicks.
Published in the Ecography and presented at the Ideacity conference in Toronto, the study findings showed at least six instances in three years where emperor penguins did not return to the same spot to nest. Satellite images showed Pointe Géologie is not isolated at all, with plenty of other colonies easily reachable for an emperor penguin.

Lead author Michelle La Rue said: "Our research showing that colonies seem to appear and disappear throughout the years challenges behaviours we thought we understood about emperor penguins. If we assume that these birds come back to the same locations every year, without fail, these new colonies we see on satellite images wouldn't make any sense. "These birds didn't just appear out of thin air—they had to have come from somewhere else. This suggests that emperor penguins move among colonies. That means we need to revisit how we interpret population changes and the causes of those changes."

La Rue said their findings might indicate that the birds did not die in the 1970s, but had just moved to one of the different spots to breed. "If we want to accurately conserve the species, we really need to know the basics. We've just learned something unexpected, and we should rethink how we interpret colony fluctuations."


Thursday, June 19, 2014

Dr. Boersma introduces Ryan the Penguin

Introducing Ryan the Penguin

Ryan carried a GPS logger just like the bird pictured above. 

Ryan is an adult male Magellanic penguin that breeds in the largest Magellanic penguin colony in the world at Punta Tombo, Argentina with about 200,000 other breeding pairs of penguin. To thank our supporters and donors at Experiment, we’ve named Ryan after a Dr. Pepper-loving, UK-hailing engineer at Experiment. We thank you and all those who supported our penguin conservation campaign in 2012 to purchase a tracking tag. With your funding, we were able to put a GPS satellite tag on Ryan during the 2012 and 2013 breeding seasons and track his whereabouts while foraging at sea. We got to see how far he swam, how deep he dove, and how long he was away from his hungry chicks. Below is a bit more info about our feisty, flippered friend.

Ryan was banded as an adult, and has lived in the same bush nest for at least the last two years. He has the same mate as last year and they have been a very successful pair, rearing two chicks in 2012-2013 and another two in 2013-2014. By tracking him at sea over the last two breeding seasons, we learned that like other successful parents, he foraged within about 100 km of his nest on most of his trips. His trips were shorter when his chicks were small; some as close as fifty or sixty kilometers offshore. They got progressively longer with his longest recorded trip reaching about 160 kilometers from the colony at the end of December.

This past season, we saw Ryan and his mate together when we first checked his nest on October 7th, 2013. Ryan’s mate laid two eggs by the 19th of October and took the first incubation stint. Ryan relieved her in early November and by late November, when their first egg started to hatch, they were trading off incubation duties regularly. The first chick hatched on the 24th of November. The second hatched on the 27th of November. Both chicks grew rapidly. The first chick was three days older and had a pretty big head start on growth. On December 10th, the #1 chick weighed 1.02 kilograms and the #2 chick weighed 0.515 kilograms, but they were both being fed consistently. We gave Ryan a GPS logger because the chicks both looked so healthy and he weighed 4.3kg. On December 24th, we saw Ryan at home feeding his chicks a big meal of hake. We checked his nest every ten days during the breeding season and saw Ryan, his mate, or just his two chicks each time. Ryan had his GPS logger removed on January 5th and weighed the same as when we put the tag on, 4.3 kg. He maintained his weight while swimming 100’s of kilometers and feeding two growing chicks. The #1 chick weighed 3.5 kg at its last measurement and fledged on the 12 of February. The #2 chick weighed 3 kg at its last measurement and fledged on the 19th of February. Ryan looked healthy when we saw him for the final time this season on the 22nd of February. We can’t wait to see what he does next year.

Your support and funding allow us to follow the details of these penguins’ lives, just like we do with our own good friends. Thank you so much for your support. To learn more about penguins and our work and see pictures and maps from other penguins that have carried tracking tags, visit and sign up for the penguin update. Our research and the penguins continue to benefit from your support and interest.