A Grand Penguin Day In Staten Island

July 21, 2014

The Penguin Post has learned that waddling female African penguin named Checkers charmed animal-loving children and adults at the Staten Island Zoo Sunday afternoon for the zoo’s annual Penguin Day celebration.

Hatched 19 years ago, Checkers the penguin  starred in educational presentations in the Zoo’s auditorium, focused on penguin biology, geography, and behavior, courtesy of Jenkinson’s Aquarium Penguin Habitat in Point Pleasant, N.J.

Laura Graziano, a curator at the Aquarium who handled Checkers and delivered the informative presentations, urged the audience to be as quiet as possible.

“Penguins have excellent hearing, better than ours,” she said.

In introducing Checkers, she explained that her breed, the African penguin, is native to South Africa, where temperatures are between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit year-round, dispelling the commonly held assumptions that penguins thrive only in frigid climates.

Another fact:

“All wild penguins live in environments at the bottom half of the world, south of the Equator,” Ms. Graziano explained. None inhabit the Arctic, Alaska or the northern reaches of Canada. “Polar bears and penguins never see each other in the wild,” she commented.

Most penguins live in Antarctica, and others in places such as Australia and South American, she said. The audience also learned that penguins are birds that do not fly, and use their small wings as flippers, for swimming. Penguins do not have teeth, and swallow their food — fish and shrimp — whole because the birds cannot chew. Penguin feathers are “very tiny,” Ms. Graziano added, providing both warmth and water proofing. A last fact: “Penguins grow very big very fast, and reach full size in three or four months. The smallest breed of penguins weights one to two pounds, and the largest about 90 pounds,” the curator said.  A waddling fun day was had by all!

 

Penguin Populations Increasing? Depends Who You Ask.

July 17, 2014

There’s no denying that climate change is real, but according to recent reports there’s also no denying scientific evidence indicating that certain penguin populations are healthy and growing. Or is there?

The Penguin Post  has learned that researchers recently attempted to count all of the Adélie penguins in Antarctica and found, to their own surprise, that the numbers of this white-eyed breed are exploding on the frigid continent, according to the Wall Street Journal. This contradicts claims by activists that the flightless bird is a victim of global warming whose dwindling numbers can be directly linked to dwindling ice caps. Wildlife biologists closely monitor Adélie penguins because their status correlates with annual sea-ice conditions and temperature trends.

But the Adélie population is actually 53 percent larger than previously estimated by using satellite technology, having increased globally by 29 percent in two decades, although this may have more to do with previous under-counting than the Adelie’s thriving under present conditions.

Heather Lynch of Stony Brook University, in New York, and imaging specialist Michelle LaRue of the University of Minnesota counted the birds by satellite and found that the Adélie penguin population is now 3.79 million breeding pairs, with 251 colonies.

The survey, published online this week by the American Ornithologists’ Union, coincides with another satellite census of Emperor penguins conducted in 2012 by geographers at the British Antarctic Survey that happened upon twice as many Emperor penguins as scientists had previously thought existed.

A recent article from Reuters.com reported findings from a study predicting that global warming would reduce Antarctica’s Emperor penguin population from 600,000 to around 480,000 by 2100. Governments have been reluctant to list the birds as endangered, however, because populations in 45 known colonies are supposed to rise until 2050 before declining. Emperors are one of three species considered stable, and of the 18 penguin species, only King, Adélie, and Chinstrap penguins are said to be increasing.

That is, unless the one talking is Ron Naveen, founder of the scientific research organization Oceanites, who told ABCnews.com, “We know two of the three penguin species in the peninsula, Chinstrap and Adélie, are declining significantly in a region where, in the last 60 years, it’s warmed by five degrees Fahrenheit annually and by nine degrees Fahrenheit in winter.” This organization found that it is actually the Gentoo species that is increasing.

In June, another University of Minnesota study led by LaRue discovered that Emperor penguins may be behaving so as to adapt to their changing environment better than expected. The researchers recorded “six instances in just three years in which emperor penguins did not return to the same location to breed,” pointing to a newly found colony on the Antarctic Peninsula that may indicate the relocation of penguins.

“Our research showing that colonies seem to appear and disappear throughout the years challenges behaviors we thought we understood about emperor penguins,” LaRue told Sciencedaily.com. The assumption that Emperor penguins return to the same locations annually does not account for the satellite images. These birds move among colonies.

“That means we need to revisit how we interpret population changes and the causes of those changes,” LaRue said.

A colony called Pointe Géologie, of March of the Penguins fame, has been studied for over 60 years. Researchers track certain birds in the colony every year to see if they rejoin the colony. In recent decades researchers worried that receding sea ice might be affecting the Emperor penguins in the colony who breed on it. A five-year decline in the late 1970s that diminished the colony by half was thought to be the result of warming temperatures in the Southern Ocean.

Now high-resolution satellite pictures have revealed the entire coastline and all the sea ice for researchers to peruse. Before this imagery, scientists thought Pointe Géologie was isolated, preventing the penguins from traveling elsewhere. The images show, however, that Pointe Géologie is actually within comfortable distance of neighboring colonies. The discrepancies in population numbers may be a function of where researchers are looking.

LaRue explains the significance of this data.

“It’s possible that birds have moved away from Pointe Géologie to these other spots and that means that maybe those banded birds didn’t die,” LaRue concluded. “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.”

Adelie Penguins

Adelie Penguins

New Penguins In New England.

July 17, 2014

The five newest penguin chicks at the New England Aquarium have a big job to do — aside from being incredibly adorable.

The Penguin Post has learned that three Little Blue and two African penguin chicks will serve as liaisons for their cousins in the wild and will increase the diversity of their species’s captive population’s gene pool.

Little Blue penguins originate from the southern coastlines of Australia and New Zealand and the African penguins inhabit land along the southern coast of Africa. Little Blues are the smallest species of penguin and have sleek, steel blue feathers. African penguins have yellow stripes on their foreheads in adulthood. feathers when they hatch. The New England Aquarium is one of the only institutions in the United States that has Little Blues, something that Heather Urquhart, penguin exhibit manager for the aquarium, hopes to change.

“There is a lot of interest in getting more of these little guys in zoos and aquariums here,” Urquhart said. “We are working with the Aussies to get more little birds to some other cities.”

The chicks have joined the ranks of only 64 Little Blues in United States zoos and aquariums — 29 of which are housed in the New England Aquarium. The sustainability of such a small population is a big concern, especially with regard to gene diversity and potential growth.

“These birds are teaching zoo- and aquarium-goers about their wild brethren and we want them to be as healthy as possible,” Urquhart said. “We want to not only have a healthy and diverse population in our own aquarium, but for the populations in zoos and aquariums everywhere.”

Urquhart is currently working closely with the Bronx Zoo in New York and the Taronga Zoo in Australia to bring more Little Blues stateside within the next few months.

The African penguins’ captive population is very strong, with about 800 birds living throughout the country, said Urquhart. Their wild counterparts, however, are facing serious challenges caused by climate change.

Dan Laughlin, assistant curator at the New England Aquarium, said the endangered African penguins are seeing a mass exodus of their food source — primarily pilchards and anchovies — because of changing water temperatures in their native areas. Eleven of the 18 species of penguins are endangered.

The 12- and 13-day-old African penguin chicks will join their 41-member colony at around 60 days old. Another African egg is due to hatch in mid-August. Laughlin said all penguin chicks must undergo a few private swimming lessons and weaning from their parents before joining the 85-bird colony at the aquarium. He added that he loves this time of year, and not just because of the chicks’ fuzzy cuteness.

“I love the smell of baby penguins,” he said. “It’s the best smell in the world.”

Little Blue Penguins at New England Aquarium

Little Blue Penguins at New England Aquarium

Penguin Adaptation And Climate Change

July 7, 2014

As we at the Penguin Post have learned penguins are on the front line of climate change as an indicator species.  So, as global  temperatures rise and the ice melts, the iconic and lovable flightless birds that call Antarctica home force researchers to sit up and take notice.

A gentoo on the ice

A gentoo on the ice

Scientists who count the birds are finding that penguins are beginning to feel major impacts from the drastic changes to their habitat. But, perhaps surprisingly, the breeding populations of three brush-tailed species of penguins inhabiting the Western Antarctic Peninsula, where the temperatures are warmest, are not all falling as the ice is quickly melting. “We know two of the three penguin species in the peninsula, chinstrap and Adélie, are declining significantly in a region where, in the last 60 years, it’s warmed by 3 degrees C. (5 degrees F.) in the summer and by 5 degrees C. (9 degrees F.) in winter,” said Ron Naveen, the founder of Oceanites, a U.S. based non-profit and scientific research organization. He oversees the Antarctic Site Inventory which monitors penguin populations.

A third species, Gentoo’s, has not been losing numbers and in fact has even been expanding its range. Counting penguins in the wild is a complicated art. Naveen’s team makes repeated visits every year to the Antarctic Peninsula from November to February when egg-laying and chick creching are at their peak. Since 1994, he has conducted 1,421 visits to the peninsula and collected data from 209 sites.

Gentoo Penguin

Gentoo Penguin

Naveen and fellow penguin counter Heather Lynch of Stony Brook University say the warming climate and the consequent loss of sea ice are contributing to the decline in Adelie and chinstrap, because the two species are dependent on the sea ice. Warming temperature is only one part of the whole story, however, according to the Naveen. “There are a number of possibilities,” he said. Adelies and chinstrap nest primarily near the ice and rely on krill as their main food source. These shrimp-like vertebrates live underneath the ice, feeding on the algae that grows there. As the ice retreats, the krill in turn disappear. Other factors such as commercial overfishing and the expanding population of humpback whales, which also feed on krill, may also contribute to the loss of their main food source.

By contrast, gentoo penguins are expanding both in numbers and in geographical range, according to Naveen and Lynch’s research because they are not as dependent on the sea ice for breeding and feeding. There are an estimated 387,000 gentoo breeding pairs and their populations are moving southward along the peninsula. “Gentoos are an open water species and can move southward as the declining ice concentration makes new habitat available to them,” Lynch said.  So as far as penguins are concerned in the new world of Antarctic global warming, we have some penguins able to adapt better than others, and given the rate of change, rapid adaptation will be the key to a species thriving.

HAPPY PENGUIN INDEPENDENCE DAY

July 4, 2014

514_400x400_NoPeel

Rockhoppers In Austria

July 2, 2014

The Penguin Post has learned that feathered friends with interesting hairdoo’s are the latest additions to the penguin enclosure at Vienna’s Schoenbrunn Zoo in Austria.

wgxxzb7k_large

The magnificent seven Rockhopper penguins were born in mid April and went public only this week in their enclosure in the Austrian capital.
 Zoo Director Dagmar Schratter said: “The penguins now weigh around 2 kilos. They have their first moulting behind them. Their waterproof feathers are almost completely covering their bodies and they already have their white chests on show. Soon they will be learning to swim.”
Penguin’s black and white plumage serves as camouflage while swimming. The black plumage on their back is hard to see from above, while the white plumage on their front looks like the sun reflecting off the surface of the water when seen from below.
The Rockhopper penguins are endangered in the wild with only around 265,000 pairs thought to exist in the wild. Over the last 37 years the population is thought to have declined by 60 percent mainly due to overfishing of the seas as well as pollution and climate change.

Noodles and Albie: The Critics Give It Two Flippers Up

July 2, 2014

Noodles and Albie has only been out for a day, but the early reviews are all flippers up. Way up!  And that doesn’t include my mom.  Now that we’re actually taking orders and shipping the books out, we can’t wait to here from the penguin loving public.  Also, if you’d like a personalized autographed copy of Noodles & Albie from Eric, Liz or both just mention it in the comment box of our check page when ordering.

noodleswithparents

HERE’S WHAT THEY’RE SAYING ABOUT NOODLES & ALBIE

 

“Noodles & Albie is a delightful book about penguins, friendship, and growing up that will be enjoyed by children of all ages. The charming illustrations bring the many adventures of Noodles to life. And, while following Noodles’ escapades, children will also be learning about actual Emperor penguin biology and behavior. Two flippers up for Noodles & Albie!”

Dyan deNapoli – The Penguin Lady TED Talks Penguin expert and award-winning author of The Great Penguin Rescue

 

“Who doesn’t love penguins? Kids of all ages will fall head over flippers for Noodles and his undersea adventure with his fishy friend Able! Charmingly illustrated with beautiful, detailed watercolors by Liz Bannish.”

Michael Chesworth- Award winning illustrator and author of Alphboat & Archibald Frisby and Illustrator of Pippi Longstocking (Omnibus Edition)

 

Liz Bannish’s watercolor illustrations delight in Noodles & Albie’s sheer cuteness. A sweet, fun story by Eric Bennett of penguins and friendship.

Gersh Kuntzman – New York Daily News

 

“Bennett and Bannish’s debut is an adorable story that is beautifully illustrated. A delightful read for penguin loving parents and children from start to finish.”

Barbara Miller – Collection Curator Museum Of Moving Images

albiemeetsnoodles

Noodles and Albie – The Long And Waddling Road

July 1, 2014

It’s been 16 months since we began this journey to create a penguin picture book adventure about a sweet penguin named Noodles and his feisty friend Albie, but the Penguin Post is happy to report that at long last Noodles & Albie is finally, really, truly here.   From the early reviews and receptions at readings, it was worth the wait.   Small Batch Press did a wonderful  job designing the book out with an original esthetic and yet at the same time with a timeless, classic, feel, and Liz Bannish’s fourteen glorious water color illustrations shine throughout. noodlesandalbiefrontcover

The story behind Noodles & Albie evolved over many years. It was initially conceived by Penguin Gift Shop founder and long time penguin lover Eric Bennett as a bedtime story for his young daughters, Sophie and Rose.  The tale was originally called The Fish & The Penguin, or the Fishy Penguin Story, and was mostly told and re-told from Eric’s memory and imagination.  The title and plot was ever changing depending on who the story was being read to and how much time Eric had to devote to the telling.

A couple of years back for a fun winter project with his daughter Sophie the story was finally put down on paper.

noodlesbackcover

Then in January 2013 Eric was “volunteered” by his youngest daughter Rose to read a story to her kindergarten class. Rather than read something from their bookshelf, Eric decided to at long last put The Fish & The Penguin to paper for real and read his time tested penguin adventure to Rose’s class.  But, this time he decided to name main characters, Noodles & Albie.  Noodles (Eric’s nickname since he was a kid) & Albie (the nickname of his friend Melissa) was finally settled on so as not to upset either Sophie or Rose, as well as to give the characters a bit more personality than the generic “Fish & Penguin”.  Besides, it seemed from the start that the names Noodles & Albie fit the story perfectly.  The reading to Ms. Bussone’s kindergarten class that cold winter morning was met with much fanfare.  With an unprecedented standing ovation from a kindergarten class!

noodleswithparents

A small Noodles & Albie buzz was now in the air, with Eric getting requests for printed copies of the story from a few children and parents at Bridge St. School. It didn’t take much coaxing for Eric to do an additional reading for the schools other kindergarten and first grade classes, which were again very well received.  A short time later, the story was brought to the attention of his friend and local artist Liz Bannish.  She was so intrigued by the charming penguin tale and colorful characters that naturally Eric inquired if she would be interested in illustrating the story. To his surprise Liz said sure, and the two began to collaborate on bringing Noodles, Albie and their undersea world to life.

Over the following weeks Liz’s illustrations went from Eric’s black and white storyboard sketches to a series of beautifully detailed watercolor paintings, capturing the essence of the story with Liz’s unique take on the characters that inhabit it.

noodlesfindsalbie

During this time Eric and Liz shopped for a publisher and after lots of wrangling and false starts Noodles and Albie finally found a home with Small Batch Books.  Being first time authors we decided to take our time the last couple of months to make sure everything turned out the way we wanted, and we’re happy to say we think it did.  We hope you do too.

So if you have kids, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, cousins, friends that have kids or if your kid is going to a birthday party.  We think Noodles & Albie is the perfect gift for you and that little penguin lover in all of us.

 

All Black Penguin!

June 30, 2014

The Penguin Post asks how big is a zillion? It’s “an extremely large, indeterminate number,” according to Dictionary.com. And how rare is an all-black penguin, rather than the black-and-white tuxedo-like colorings on most of the adorable, big, wabbly birds? It’s a one-in-a-zillion mutation, scientists say.
black-penguin-resize-480x281
On a recent trip for National Geographic Traveler magazine to the continent that is the world’s southern tip — Antarctica — Contributing Editor Andrew Evans spotted one and got pictures and video of it. He was doing a story on getting there from Washington, D.C. mostly by bus. Evans saw the penguin on the island of South Georgia, just off Antarctica, during the trip’s last leg – a boat ride from Venezuela.  Group members disembarked on South Georgia when they saw the penguin. The birds have no natural fear of humans, so Evans sat on the ground in front of the penguin when he captured it on camera. Other naturalists on the ship said the bird had been spotted on other trips, which means it’s been around awhile. From what Evans could see, the black penguin assimilated well with the others, and even appeared to have a black-and-white mate. There are some partially-black penguins, about one in every quarter million, scientists say. But this is the only one known to exist that is all black.

Patriotic Penguin Cupcakes

June 29, 2014

Here’s a little holiday weekend treat suggestion from the Penguin Post. These fun penguin cupcakes will make for a fun, cool desert  after your 4th of July BBQ.   Use doughnut holes to form the penguin and then dip them in melted chocolate frosting. Then they are ready to decorate with appropriate candies or red, white and blue sprinkles for that patriot penguin look.

Attach donut holes to an unfrosted cupcake of any flavor. Frosting is the mortar that holds the shapes together. Once the whole structure is finished, place in the freezer until frosting is firm.

Place chocolate frosting in a 1- to 2-cup microwavable measuring cup. Microwave for 5 to 10 seconds until it’s the consistency of lightly whipped cream.


Hold the cupcake by its bottom and dip the top in the melted frosting up to the edge of the paper liner.


Lift the cupcake and allow the excess frosting to drip off.

Quickly turn the cupcake upright. You can pop any small bubbles with a toothpick.

Get creative and use fruit chews, small candies, and dyed frosting to add finishing touches to your penguin cupcakes. Serve up for an adorable penguin treat!


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 59 other followers