Thursday, May 5, 2016

African Penguin Researcher Highlighted

Posted: Thursday, May 5, 2016 

Rachel Hickcox of Watertown traveled to Port Elizabeth, South Africa, as an African penguin research assistant to Dr. Lorien Pichegru.
While in South Africa, she was privileged to spend three weeks on the remote Bird Island in Algoa Bay.
Bird island, part of the Addo Elephant National Park and Marine Protected Area, is home to about 5,000 African penguins and 200,000 Cape gannets (largest gannetry in the world). Rachel assisted with adult bird measuring and weekly chick measuring, along with GPS deployment and nest monitoring. This data is used to investigate feeding behavior and the impact of small no-take fishing areas surrounding the breeding colony.

As evident during this breeding season of high chick mortality, the endangered African penguin are victim to over-fishing, oil spills, and pollution. In the past 30 years there has been a 60 percent decrease in the African penguin population. Ongoing conservation efforts include artificial nest installation, rehabilitation, and continued designation of no-take fishing areas.

For more information about this research, African penguins, or how to help, contact Rachel at


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