Of course everyday is Penguin Day at Penguin Place, but this year we thought we’d actually give you a heads up that World Penguin Day is on the way so you can prepare. Each year we officially celebrate two penguin holidays (Chilly Willy’s birthday not withstanding). January 20th is Penguin Awareness Day, which is a day to celebrate penguins and what they mean to us. But, for me the biggie is World Penguin Day on April 25th, because it marks an actual specific event for penguins. Read all about it here and all the fun things you can do for this waddling cool day.
Posts Tagged ‘adelie penguins’
Do penguins adhere to daylight savings time? Do penguins even care? Antarctica where two major penguins species reside (Emperor and Adlie) sits on every line of longitude, due to the South Pole being situated near the middle of the continent. Theoretically Antarctica would be located in all time zones, however areas south of the Antarctic Circle experience extreme day-night cycles near the times of the June and December solstices, making it difficult to determine which time zone would be appropriate. For practical purposes time zones are usually based on territorial claims, however many stations use the time of the country they are owned by or the time zone of their supply base (e.g. McMurdo Station and Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station use New Zealand time due to their main supply base being Christchurch, New Zealand).Many areas have no time zone since nothing is decided and there are not even any temporary settlements that have any clocks. They are simply labeled with UTC time. With almost six months of daylight and six months of darkness in most of Antarctica we must conclude that daylight savings time in the southern continent does not make any sense, so there’s no “fall back, spring ahead” in Antarctica, and since penguins can’t tell time, we must conclude the Antarctic time zone phenomenon moot. At least for penguins.
London’s Natural History Museum has unearthed a landmark study by George Murray Levick, a scientist with the ill-fated 1910-13 Scott Antarctic Expedition, detailing the birds’ sexual shenaniganshave come to the Penguin Post. Homosexual acts, sexual abuse of chicks and even attempts by male penguins to mate with dead females are recorded in Levick’s paper “Sexual Habits of the Adelie Penguin”, which had been lost for decades.
Edwardian Englishman Levick was so horrified by his own findings that he initially recorded them in Greek to make them inaccessible to the average reader. Male penguins gather in “hooligan bands of half a dozen or more and hang about the outskirts of the knolls, whose inhabitants they annoy by their constant acts of depravity,” he later wrote in the paper in English.
To this day, Levick is the only scientist to have studied an entire breeding cycle at Cape Adare after he spent the Antarctic summer of 1911-12 there, the Guardian said. Captain Robert Scott and four others perished after reaching the South Pole on January 17, 1912 – only to find Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen had beaten them to it more than a month earlier.
But Levick survived, despite having been forced with five others to spend an entire Antarctic winter in an ice cave with few supplies after the expedition ship, Terra Nova, was blocked by ice on its way to rescue them. Back in Britain, he published a paper called “Natural History of the Adelie Penguin”, but his findings about the species’ astonishing sexual behavior were considered so shocking that they were omitted.
This material was used for a short separate study, “Sexual Habits of the Adelie Penguin”, that was privately passed around a few experts. The groundbreaking paper – which came around 50 years ahead of the next study on the subject – had been lost until the recent discovery of a copy by Douglas Russell, curator of birds at the Natural History Museum.
Russell has had the paper published in the journal Polar Record along with an analysis of Levick’s work. Russell told the U.K. Sunday newspaper, The Observer, that the penguins’ sexual inexperience is to blame for the antics that so disgusted Levick. “Adelies gather at their colonies in October to start to breed. They have only a few weeks to do that and young adults simply have no experience of how to behave,” he explained. “Hence the seeming depravity of their behavior.”
The Penguin Post has learned of new details of what may be the ultimate penguin experience (outside of a trip to Antarctica) by SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida regarding the park’s upcoming 2013 much anticipated new attraction, Antartica – Empire of the Penguin. The penguin-centric ride will utilize new technology that will allow the guests to experience the ride differently from visit to visit. Guests will also be allowed to choose the thrill level they wish to experience as each car seats eight people who can decide as a group which level they’d prefer. Also, as part of the ride a new SeaWorld star will be introduced – a young Gentoo penguin who will serve as the ride’s guide. No word as to the technology that will allow that to happen. The attraction will immerse guests in an incredible penguin experience with various species including: Gentoos, Rockhoppers, Adelies and Kings. Designers have yet to reveal how close guests will get to the penguins, but the penguins’ habitat must stay in the low 30 degrees for their comfort, so you may want to bring a jacket. With the habitat kept at that temperature, Antartica – Empire of the Penguin will be the coldest theme park attraction in the world. Or the coolest to say the least.
Yes, it’s time to get out your tuxedo or penguin costume as this April 25th is International (World) Penguin Day. So, what exactly is International Penguin Day and when did it begin? For me it began about 20 years ago when I read an article in the Science New York Times about researchers at McMurdo Station in Antarctica who had noticed that every year, like clockwork, on April 25th a colony of Adelie penguins returned from months at sea to the exact same spot on the exact same day every year. These delighted scientists and their support crew marked it on the calendar and would make a day of it, gathering near the shore to celebrate and welcome the penguins who would arrive by the hundreds right on schedule every year. It became an unofficial holiday at McMurdo known to the staff as Penguin Day. So when I read the article in The Times two decades ago, I became intrigued and contacted some folks I knew who had worked at McMurdo Station to confirm. Not only did they confirm, but they expanded on the story, which I then passed along in an article in the print version of the Penguin Post in 1997. In the article I gave it a bit more of an important title calling it World Penguin Day since I felt Antarctica is an international place, and besides World Penguin Day sounds like a holiday penguin lovers everywhere could celebrate. Within a couple of years with the dawn of the internet word of the April 25th Adelie penguin phenomenon spread and it took on a life of its own to the point where it’s now an internationally celebrated “niche” holiday. So, now that you know it’s World Penguin Day, what should you do to celebrate? Obviously, this is a holiday to have fun with and put your penguin passion front and center. So have a blast and try to do lots of things “penguinish”, whether dressing in plenty of black and white, wearing penguin apparel and / or accessories, eating fish (healthy), waddling every now and then (remember to stretch first), telling penguin jokes (keep them clean), watching a penguin video (be it a nature film, animated or something in between like Mr. Popper’s Penguins), read about penguins (plenty of kids and adult books are available), visit penguins at your local zoo or aquarium, adopting a penguin or maybe even treating yourself by buying up hordes of penguin merchandise.
As the Antarctic Peninsula warms, penguins that live in the area year-round have a breeding advantage over birds that migrate in. Gentoo penguins live on the Antarctic Peninsula year-round, and their numbers are increasing while migratory chinstrap and Adelie penguins are dwindling in the area. New research by Stony Brook University researcher Heather Lynch reveals that Gentoo penguins have adapted to warmer temperatures faster than the other two species. Using field work and satellite imagery, Lynch and her colleagues tracked colonies of the three penguin species. They found that warming temperatures triggered penguins to lay their eggs earlier in the season than normal. Gentoos are able to adapt more quickly because they’re locals, the researchers found. Adelie and Chinstrap penguins aren’t aware of the local temperatures until they migrate into the area, meaning they can’t shift their breeding as dramatically. Gentoo penguins may also have an advantage because they prefer areas with less sea ice than chinstrap and Adelie penguins. The latter two species rely more on ice-loving krill as their food source. A long-term study of penguins published in 2011 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that krill density is down as much as 80 percent since the mid-1970s. Krill depend on algae growing on sea ice for food. Also in 2011, researchers reported that a small colony of West Antarctic Peninsula Emperor penguins had disappeared in 2009 after about three decades of stability. Warming is also bringing other changes to the southernmost continent, including colonization by king crabs.
It’s no news to the Penguin Post that penguins pilfer nest building and courtship materials from other penguins. About 15 years ago I was personally presented with rocks by an unsuspecting “smitten” African penguin during courtship season inside the penguin house at the Baltimore Zoo.
In this latest caught on film episode, this time involving penguins a bit further south of Baltimore an adult male Adelie penguin has been charged with grand theft rock. The suspect was last seen on Ross Island, Antarctica by a BBC film crew. Video evidence clearly shows the suspect repeatedly snatching stones from his neighbor’s nest. The one-and-half-foot-tall suspect was last seen wearing what appeared to be a tuxedo, unfortunately so were 250,000 other penguins in the area. Obviously a police line-up is out of the question. The pilfering penguin was caught on tape by a film crew working on the documentary Frozen Planet. The crew has spent the last four months on Ross Island. Penguins regularly steal stones from each other, but catching one in the act was hard to come by for cameraman Mark Smith because of the constant Antarctic anarchy of the penguin colony. For one thing, curious penguins kept peeking directly into the lens of his camera in an obvious attempt to shield the penguin thieves from the camera. “It’s appealing at first, but when it happens for the hundredth time as you’re trying to get the shots you need, you start to lose patience” (or get suspicious), said Smith in an interview with the BBC. “It’s a testament to Mark’s patience and presence of mind, that he managed to leave the camera running and capture that moment,” Jeff Wilson, director of the shoot, told the BBC.Male penguins build their nests from stones to keep eggs safe and from the run-off of melting ice. The male with the biggest nest (the most stones) gives the greatest survival advantage to his offspring and is therefore also likely to get the penguin princess of his dreams. It may be where the envious saying comes from “that penguins got stones”. Thus far the Penguin Police has yet to apprehend the pilfering penguin as no Adelie has waddled forward to press charges.
We all know that penguins are good at waddling and swimming – but what many penguins are uniquely great at is their gravity defying leap from the water to ice. Now the Penguin Post reports that scientists claim to have recently discovered the secret behind how cold weather penguins can seemingly fly into the air from the sea onto the ice. Obviously penguins aren’t built to use their wings to flap into flight like other birds, but that doesn’t stop them from being able to leap in the air to escape from danger. Experts have found out that they’re able to wrap their bodies in a cloak of air bubbles which help them to fly fast out of the water.
Penguin feathers collect tiny bubbles when they’re swimming, creating a layer of air around the animal which means that they can swim fast enough to fly out of the sea, into the air and onto the ice! The bubbles help the birds leap out of the water. Scientists and engineers have used the same basic technique when designing torpedoes and boats, but didn’t realize that penguins were using the same idea all along! Smaller penguins like the Adelie can leap up to a huge 6-8 feet, but larger species like the Emperor can only propel themselves up to 3-4 feet. Scientists think that without the bubbles, the animals would have big problems approaching those leaping numbers because of their heavy, little bodies and big wings. Experts calculate that the penguins special leaping talent is crucial in keeping them safe from predators.