Saturday, May 30, 2015

Friday, May 29, 2015

#Penguin of the Day

Whipsnade penguin 

Whipsnade penguin (Rockhopper chick) by Gemma Parry

Psychic penguins have made their pick for Arsenal vs Aston Villa in the FA Cup final

And the winner is...

Psychic animals have long been predicting football matches. Ever since Paul the Octopus gripped the world's attention by correctly predicting 11 out of 13 results at Euro 2008, there have been a number of mimics.
The gentoo penguins at the National Sea Life centre in Birmingham are among the more reliable, having correctly predicted that England would have a poor World Cup campaign last summer.


Ginny has made her pick and (we wonder if there is some bias here) selected local side Aston Villa to prevail in the FA Cup final over defending champions Arsenal.

"Our penguins love getting the chance to put their psychic abilities to the test, especially Ginny," said Naomi Bird, Aquarist at the underwater themed attraction.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger  
Arsene Wenger is not impressed (we'd imagine)
 
"Anyone that follows her on Twitter will know that she’s got such a big personality and likes to make herself heard so she was determined to be at the forefront of the predictions this time around!

"We put out two identical buckets for the penguins to choose from and there was no hesitation in Ginny’s decision, she’s certain that the Birmingham-based team will be the one to win."

source

Thursday, May 28, 2015

#Penguins of the Day

Penguins on Ballestas islands in Peru 

Humboldt Penguins on Ballestas islands in Peru by frozgard

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Penguins of the Day

P1030146.jpg 

Gentoo Penguin family by Angus Horlock

Oiled penguin prepares for release after recovery

By Rebecca Savory 

Rebecca is a digital journalist for bayofplentytimes.co.nz



Chrissy Jefferson with Mobil One, who will be ready for release in two weeks. Photo / George Novak
Chrissy Jefferson with Mobil One, who will be ready for release in two weeks. Photo / George Novak
A penguin recovering after being coated in oil in last month's oil spill has earned himself the name Mobil One.

Mobil One has been at the Oropi Native Bird Sanctuary for three weeks and will take on a six-hour swim in his new swimming pool next week in preparation for his release.

Mobil Oil donated the pool to help with the bird's recovery.

The bird was found by a volunteer from the Mauao Wildlife Trust and taken to ARRC Wildlife Trust to be assessed before being taken to the sanctuary for rehabilitation.

Chrissy Jefferson, who runs the sanctuary, said he was "100 per cent covered" when he arrived and needed to be cleaned four times before a rigorous rinsing process.

"It's a very stressful process that's why we don't clean them for the first 72 hours ... The stress would kill them."

Mobil One was the only penguin taken to the Oropi Native Bird Sanctuary, covered in oil after last month's oil spill. Photo / Supplied
Mobil One was the only penguin taken to the Oropi Native Bird Sanctuary, covered in oil after last month's oil spill. Photo / Supplied
She treated about 400 penguins during the Rena oil spill and said it was lucky to only have one in the recent spill.

He was called Mobil One because she was expecting more penguins and planned to name them successively.

"And thank goodness we didn't get Mobil Two," she laughed.

Mobil One was halfway towards being fully waterproof again and would be ready to be released in another two weeks, she said. A morning with calm weather was the best for releasing, Mrs Jefferson said.

"He's a really good, strong swimmer and he won't take long."

View video of the penguin below or mobile and app users click here.
source 

 


Lloyd Spencer Davis, Penguin Expert-- 12 Questions

By Jennifer Dann
Lloyd Spencer Davis, aka 'Professor Penguin', is regarded as a world authority on penguins. The award-winning film-maker and author is director of the Centre for Science Communication at Otago University.
"Research shows storytelling is the best way of engaging people. If you give them science in story form, they'll absorb, understand and recall that information better." Photo / Chris Gorman
"Research shows storytelling is the best way of engaging people. If you give them science in story form, they'll absorb, understand and recall that information better." Photo / Chris Gorman
1. Is it true that penguins mate for life?
That was the conventional wisdom when I began studying penguins. But in fact nothing could be further from the truth, which I discovered the first time I went to Antarctica. Our team observed a whole lot of shenanigans going on. We had females going away for, I don't know how to put it politely, a "quickie" as a way of providing breeding insurance. Many of these birds have several partners in one season. We also observed more aberrant behaviours like homosexuality and what could be called prostitution, where females will mate with males who provide them with a stone. Stones are like the currency down there because they're used in nests to keep the eggs dry.

2. What did you think of the movie March of the Penguins?
It's still the highest rating nature documentary at the box office. Most of the science is very accurate. The problem is that we often want to transpose our own ideals of marriage and fidelity on to penguins.
In this case to such an extent the Christian right in the United States promoted the film as exemplifying God's plan. Ironically about 93 per cent of Emperor penguins divorce every year. So they're actually the least faithful of all the penguins.

3. When did you know you wanted to be a scientist?
From the earliest age I just loved being out in nature, lying by a river watching birds. I remember when I was about 5 telling an uncle I wanted to be a naturalist when I grew up and he was blown away because he thought I meant naturist. I became a Junior Wildlife Warden at the gannet colony in Cape Kidnappers when I was 12. We'd be up there in our little red berets telling tourists about the biology of the gannets.

4. Are you religious?
I had a religious upbringing. My mother was high Anglican and I had to go to church four times a week. When I was about 12, I remember this light going off in my head, thinking "this can't be right". I was set to be confirmed and the vicar came into the church completely pissed from drinking the altar wine and fell over the pew. After that I became quite a rabid Darwinist.

5. How were you influenced by 19th-century American philosopher and poet Henry Thoreau?
In my third year at Victoria University I read Thoreau's book Walden about spirituality in nature and thought, "Holy shit. I've found the meaning of life." I was six weeks from finishing my honours degree and decided "nope, I'm going down to the South Island to live by a pond". I'd just decided everything else was bullshit. Luckily the physiology professor convinced me to finish the course.

6. You later followed in Darwin's footsteps for your book Looking for Darwin. What did you conclude?
I'm fairly comfortable now with Darwinism as the best explanation we've got for how and why we're here. It's not perfect. But I looked at areas where his theory was difficult or even contradictory and there were special reasons why selection operated that way in those cases. I also ended up at a place where it didn't really matter whether you believed in God or natural selection when you put that into the context of the negative impact humans have had. Diversity is being vastly reduced because of us. We are - for want of a better word - f***ing up the planet. So for me the greater revelation was how do we reverse the destruction that we've wrought on the planet?
Lloyd Spencer Davis. "From the earliest age I just loved being out in nature, lying by a river watching birds." Photo / Supplied
Lloyd Spencer Davis. "From the earliest age I just loved being out in nature, lying by a river watching birds." Photo / Supplied
7. Is that why you got into science communication?
No, popularising science is something I've always done in my personal time. Even when I started at Otago University's zoology department back in 1985, I was making nature documentaries with TVNZ's Natural History unit. We established the Centre for Science Communication in 2008. You need an informed public to make decisions on things like global warming, what medicines to take or whether to have fluoride in drinking water.

8. How informed are we now?
Science competency is very low. Very few students are taking science and that has a flow-on effect. The biggest problem is that science has got really complex. We have more than a million papers a year being produced and you need someone to point to the good stuff. It's compounded by the fact that scientists are really bad communicators. It's like joining a club - there's a secret handshake. You know the jargon of your own particular field but everyone else finds it gobbledegook. I'd rather have a root canal than go to a biochemistry lecture. I can't understand what they're saying and I'm a professor of science.

9. What sort of job is the New Zealand media doing with science right now?
Very poor. Everything's ratings driven. To compete for people's attention you have to make science interesting and entertaining. But if you get them, people love science. Research shows storytelling is the best way of engaging people. If you give them science in story form, they'll absorb, understand and recall that information better.

10. How do you reconcile your communicator side, that loves being with people, with your researcher side that loves being alone?
There's always been this balance between family life and the adventurer part of me that wants to go off to these exotic, remote places. Plenty of people have told me that family's the most important thing, but it takes someone like me quite a while to get this. I now have a 2-year-old son who I parent very differently to my other two adult children. My daughter was only 6 weeks old when I took off to the Antarctic for three months. Now I spend as much time with my son as I can.

11. Are you less egotistical?
Yeah, although plenty of people still call me an egotist. I'm really just a slow learner.
Back then I was so self-driven. I was very fortunate to have a supportive wife. But as you get older the priorities change. I was supposed to go to India last year to finish my book on monkeys but I've put that on the back burner to focus on my relationship.

12. Are you hopeful for the future of our planet?
I'm basically an optimist. I sometimes wonder why. Science diplomacy is the answer to the large, intractable problems facing the world. The Copenhagen Accord failed to reach any agreements because nations are still very protective of their own areas. If we remain with the concept of sovereign states then climate change is not to be solved. We need a structure more akin to the United Nations.

Postal Service unveils new 'Forever' stamps

 
 
The Postal Service recently unveiled its' new 'additional ounce' Forever stamps after receiving a positive response from customers over the 'Forever Stamp' – a stamp specifically used to mail one ounce First-Class letters anytime in the future despite price changes.
The new stamps will now allow items that weigh more than one ounce, postcards, and bulky or odd-sized envelopes that require hand sorting to be sent at any time.
Designs for the new stamps include the emperor penguin, coastal birds, the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly, a vintage tulip, wedding cake, and a stamp in the Literary Arts series that honors writer Flannery O'Connor.
The Forever stamps are classified as 'additional ounce,' 'non-machinable surcharge,' 'two ounce,' and 'three ounce' depending on the usage value.

source

Sioux Falls Family Parties With Painting Penguin

London Swan, KDLT News Reporter
POSTED: May 26, 2015
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - A Sioux Falls family got to have a different kind of party with a two-legged creature at the Great Plains Zoo.
The Miller family, including 18-month-old Ruby, is getting up close and personal with a penguin named Oliver.
Last summer at the zoo's annual charity gala "Jungle Jubilee," the family bid on and won a "Paint Party with a Penguin.”
Great Plains CEO Elizabeth Whealy says the Sioux Falls' zoo loves being able to offer guests special experiences with the animals.
And she says Tuesday’s "Paint Party with a Penguin" was a real hit.
“Not only did the family get to paint with a penguin and meet Oliver up close, but they also get to take home a beautiful piece of artwork that has their child's footprints and a penguin's footprints,” said Whealy.
This year's Jungle Jubilee will be held on Thursday, July 23rd.
There, event participants will get the opportunity to bid on special one-on-one experiences with animals at the zoo.
Tickets to the event will be available for purchase in a couple of weeks.

source

Monday, May 25, 2015

Saturday, May 23, 2015

#Penguin of the Day

Penguin. 

Gentoo Penguin. by Richard McManus

The Wonders of Macquarie Island

By ALEX WHITE
King penguins stand tall and proud as they survey their frozen realm on Macquarie Island.
King penguins stand tall and proud as they survey their frozen realm on Macquarie Island. Picture: JASON EDWARDS
 
Juvenile elephant seals share the beach at Green Gorge. Picture: JASON EDWARDS
Juvenile elephant seals share the beach at Green Gorge. Picture: JASON EDWARDS
 
THOUSANDS of kilometres from the nearest city traffic jam, the wild residents of Macquarie Island have a congestion problem of their own. The black and white birds pack the rocky shores and squawk to be heard above the rabble. It is breeding time on the 34km animal sanctuary in the Southern Ocean, and real estate is in short supply.

More than a million penguins march happily up and down the beaches busily preparing their young for the final dash to the sea. The inquisitive king penguins — the smaller cousin of the emperor penguins — are the friendliest birds on the island.
 
More than 950,00 birds pack the beach at Green Gorge, but despite the crowding they merrily waddle after any human visitor, trilling incessantly. “Macca”, as the island is commonly known, is a heritage-listed area 1500km southeast of Tasmania.

It remains one of Australia’s most remote and protected islands. To bird enthusiasts, also known as Twitchers, it is the penguin Mecca. Four different species breed throughout the year, including the shy gentoos and the yellow feather-headed royals and rockhoppers.

A Royal penguin preening its partner at Bauer Bay. Picture: JASON EDWARDS
A Royal penguin preening its partner at Bauer Bay. Picture: JASON EDWARDS
 
Temperatures drop as low as -5C, and gale-force winds batter the island almost constantly. But the pecking pack seem unbothered by the sub­antarctic conditions. Lining the penguin colonies are the 4m elephant seals that also call the island home.

Any approach prompts an angry growl from the gnarled trunks of these huge beasts. But they are rarely disturbed — fewer than 1000 tourists make the trek across the Southern Ocean to visit the tiny island.

Tasmania Parks and Wildlife former ranger-in-charge Chris Howard says tourism is welcome, and he urged more adventurous Aussies to make the trip.

After living on the island for two years, patrolling solo and hosting intrepid travellers, Mr Howard says it remains a mysterious place. “Most people don’t know much about it. It might sound corny in a way to say it, but it is a privilege to work on the island,” he says. “People wait a lifetime to get to here.”

A hungry skua scavenges for a meal at Green Gorge. Picture: JASON EDWARDS
A hungry skua scavenges for a meal at Green Gorge. Picture: JASON EDWARDS
 
Flick the biosecurity sniffer dog is ready to go to work at Macquarie Island. Picture: JA
Flick the biosecurity sniffer dog is ready to go to work at Macquarie Island. Picture: JASON EDWARDS
 
But it was only a few years ago that the wild terrain and the exotic animals were under threat.
In 2007 Macca was teeming with more than 100,000 rabbits — originally introduced by seal hunters.
During their 100-year reign they devoured the native grasses, causing mass erosion.
That led to landslides, and tonnes of mud and rock poured on to the beaches killing scores of penguins and seals.

An elephant seal catches up on some much-needed beauty sleep at Bauer Bay. Picture: JASON
An elephant seal catches up on some much-needed beauty sleep at Bauer Bay. Picture: JASON EDWARDS
 
Australia embarked on the world’s biggest island pest-eradication effort, placing 13 dog handlers and hunters on the ground in the $25 million program.
After covering 94,000km on foot, in 2014 the hunters finally declared the island to be pest-free. Last month, workers returned to remove the remote survival huts used in the project.
These days the only introduced species are 13 human expeditioners plucked from all over Australia.
The tight-knit crew will man the island for the next 12 months before the Aurora Australis arrives next year to take them home.

Alex White was in Macquarie Island as a media guest of Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service and the Australian Antarctic Division.
Green Gorge lit up by an aurora australis, as seen from the ship bearing the same name. P
Green Gorge lit up by an aurora australis, as seen from the ship bearing the same name. Picture: JASON EDWARDS

Images of the most extreme #penguins on earth

Jessica Orwig
penguinCourtesy of Tom Hart with the Penguin Watch project

Little is known about the habits and behaviors of the six species of penguins that live in the extreme environments of Antarctica, especially in the winter when conditions are too harsh for scientists to observe them. 
What scientists do know is that some of these species are thriving while others are dwindling in numbers.  To better understand some of these species of penguins and what's causing changes in their populations, Tom Hart, a penguinologist at Oxford University, set up cameras in 2014 in spots along the Antarctic coastline where penguins frequent.
Since then, these cameras have recorded video and snapped over 500,000 images of thousands of penguins. Although the team is still reviewing oodles of data they have collected, here's a small sample of some of the incredible pictures the team collected.

Many species of penguins spend most of their time at sea, making it difficult for scientists to study their behavior.

Most Antarctic species will migrate to the shorelines to breed during the fall. It's on these shorelines that Hart and his team spied on thousands of penguins for a full year.

One of the only ways to study penguins is to attach GPS trackers on individual birds. The team's cameras are less invasive and provide a better idea of population size.

The first thing penguins do when they reach the shore is locate their mate. If they have mated before they relocate that same penguin using a unique call, or song.

The first thing penguins do when they reach the shore is locate their mate. If they have mated before they relocate that same penguin using a unique call, or song.

With every penguin trying to relocate their mates, the first few days of mating season can get pretty noisy.

If the penguins have not mated before, they engage in courtship activities like bowing their heads.

If the penguins have not mated before, they engage in courtship activities like bowling their heads.

Another display of courtship is swinging their heads from side to side, like so:

Hart has discovered that the Adélie penguin species, shown here, are not responding well to warmer climates in the Antarctic Peninsula where their numbers are declining.

Gentoo penguins, on other hand, are perhaps the only Antarctic penguin species who are adjusting well to the warmer climates.

Emperor penguins are the largest of all the 17 penguin species in the world. These birds are famous for having the most stressful breeding habits of any penguin species because they travel miles inland to breed during the harshest time of year: winter.

Here's a colony of king penguins, which look similar to Emperor penguins and are the second largest species of penguin. They breed during the summer months of November through January.

Although they can't fly, penguins soar through water. They use their flippers for propulsion and their feet as a rudder. Capable of exceeding 12 mph, they can hold their breath for 15 to 20 minutes and dive over 250 feet below the surface.

The Antarctic coastlines aren't just a popular place for penguins. These seals don't seem to mind the company, but this Adélie penguin looks a bit disgruntled.

Although Hart and the team are still analyzing the data, they did report one interesting find from their latest Antarctic expeditions: If the ground is too cold for breeding, some penguin species will use their poo to warm it up.

Hart and his team recently launched a citizen science project called Penguin Watch that released 500,000 new images of penguins asking the public to help his team individually count the number of penguins in each photo. How many can you count in this photo?

Everyone who registers to help out with Penguin Watch can also enter to win a trip to Antarctica to see the penguins for yourself. As of April, more than 1.5 million people have volunteered.

Friday, May 22, 2015

#Penguin of the Day

Gentoo Penguin 

Gentoo Penguin by Baron Reznik

Antarctic postmasters picked for penguin-packed peninsula

21 May 2015


The post office and museum building is surrounded by 2,000 penguins

Four people are getting ready to spend five months in the Antarctic Peninsular monitoring penguins and sorting post at the UK's most remote post office.
Each year Cambridge-based UK Antarctic Heritage Trust chooses a small team to spend five months at Port Lockroy.
Rachel Morris from Essex, Adele Jackson from West Yorkshire, Laura Martin from Inverness-shire and Iain Pringle from Lincolnshire beat 2,000 other hopefuls.
The tiny post office deals with mail from 18,000 visitors during the summer.


The team will spend November to March - the Antarctic summer - manning the post office
Last year the trust received about 200 applications for the postmaster positions.
This year, more than 2,400 people from 75 countries applied.


Penguins tolerate humans but visitors are asked to respect their habitat 
 
The team will live on the island for five months, welcoming more than two cruise ships a day
All felt able to answer "yes" to questions such as: "Can you carry a big heavy box over slippery rocks and slushy snow whilst dodging penguins?
"Are you happy not to shower for up to a month, live in close proximity to three people and 2,000 smelly penguins for five months?"

Penguin monitors

The successful team was chosen after a two-day selection process testing their fitness, teamwork and knowledge of Antarctica.
They will receive further training in September before leaving the following month for Goudier Island, home to thousands of gentoo penguins.
During the Antarctic summer they will mail thousands of cards from visitors on board expedition and cruise ships.
They will also look after the museum, act as guides and monitor the impact of humans on the penguin population.


Postmasters

Adele Jackson, Laura Martin, Rachel Morris and Iain Pringle

  • Adele Jackson, 42, from Clayton West in Huddersfield, visited Antarctica last year working as an expedition photographer
  • Laura Martin, 25, from Kingussie, Inverness-shire, currently works as a student outdoor instructor in the Scottish Highlands
  • Rachel Morris, from Saffron Walden in Essex is in her mid-30s, and has just returned from South Georgia Heritage Trust museum, in South Georgia, where she worked as an assistant
  • Iain Pringle, 28, from Nocton, Lincolnshire, currently works as a geophysicist and project supervisor at an archaeological consultancy company
source