Posts Tagged ‘Adelie Penguin’

Hidden Penguin Cam Reveals The Secret World Of Penguins

May 2, 2015

Ever wondered what penguins get up to when nobody’s watching? The Penguin Post has learned that the citizen science project, Penguin Watch, has just released 500,000 new images of the flightless birds in the hopes it will reveal their secrets and help conservation efforts. The project launched in 2014 and led by Oxford University scientists with support from the Australian Antarctic Division, asks people to go online and count penguins in images taken by remote cameras monitoring almost 100 colonies in Antarctica. Scientists hope the results from the latest batch of photos published to coincide with World Penguin Day on April 25 will help them discover how climate change and human activity affect breeding and feeding and why some penguin species thrive as others decline in a bid to conserve them.

Citizen scientists are helping biologists shed light on the lives of penguins in Antarctica by viewing time-lapse photos.

Citizen scientists are helping biologists shed light on the lives of penguins in Antarctica by viewing time-lapse photos.

“The problem is that penguins face different challenges across their range, which could be from climate change, from fisheries or direct human disturbance,” said Tom Hart of Oxford University’s Department of Zoology in a statement. “Having many more sites monitored and comparing high- versus low-fished sites, for example, will enable us to work out which of these threats are causing changes to penguin populations and how we might mitigate them.”  Monitoring penguin colonies during breeding season has proven problematic in the past because the areas are extremely difficult to access at the beginning of the season, according to the statement.

But the combination of time-lapse cameras and 1.5 million eagle-eyed citizen scientists has already alerted the project’s researchers to some surprising secret penguin behaviors. For instance, penguins apparently inadvertently use their poop to melt ice so they can breed.

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Penguin Petting Therapy

October 7, 2014

As if you needed another reason to pet a penguin the Penguin Post has learned that the Newport Aquarium near Cincinnati has a new personal penguin petting encounter may have serious health benefits. Alle Barber and Ric Urban have pretty cool jobs; they get to play with penguins. Both of them perform education and outreach for the Wave Foundation, so they get to spend a lot of time with penguins. So who better to talk to about how penguins help us heal? Ric admits that he can be having a rough day until he himself has a personal encounter with a penguin. “After thirty minutes, I feel great,” Ric said. “I am ready to go off and tackle the world again.” Alle said that a few minutes with an alligator will do the same thing. “It really does make you feel calm, and just peaceful,” she said, “It’s just this feeling that nothing else matters in the world.” In addition to that, there may some power to actually petting the animals. A recent report from the Mayo Clinic found that when scientists looked at those who were petting animals, they had surge in healing hormones that led to a feeling of peace and serenity While the effects are tough to quantify, just take a look at the penguins. Notice how you can’t help but smile?

Gentoo Penguin

Gentoo Penguin

Spend Your Friday Penguin Counting (Perhaps Saturday Too)

September 19, 2014

No one wants to be at work on a Friday. But today, instead of spending all your precious procrastination time on Facebook or Twitter, spend it looking at penguins.

The Penguin Post has learned that It’s pretty simple: In Antarctica, remote cameras (shown above) are monitoring more than 30 colonies of penguins — populations that are in decline because of climate change. It’s more practical to leave recording devices there than it is to drop researchers long-term, given how distant and inhospitable the area is.

Researchers at Oxford University now have over 200,000 photos to sort through, and counting. That’s where you come in: When you log on to Penguin Watch, you’ll be presented with random photos from the collection.

All you have to do is properly tag the adult penguins, baby penguins, eggs, and any other animals in the frame. By helping the researchers turn penguins into data points, you’ll help them analyze how many penguins there are —  and how their colonies are organized.

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Where do they keep the eggs? Do young penguins hang out with old penguins? What happens when mating season comes around? Is that a rock, or a potential penguin predator? Scientists want to know, but first they’ve got to analyze a couple hundred thousand photos.

Eventually, all of this human input can be used to create a computer algorithm to do the job more quickly. But for now, get clicking. And don’t worry about mistakes —  multiple people tag each photo, so someone else can make up for your penguin-tagging oversights.

Why Are Penguins Black & White

May 22, 2014

When I talk about penguins at public schools one of the questions young children ask most frequently is why are penguins black and white? There are 18 species of penguins found all over the southern hemisphere, and some are cold weather birds like Emperor’s or Adelie’s, while others are warm weather penguins living in southern Africa and Australia, with others in climates in between.   Yet all penguins bodies are basically black in the back and white in the front.  So, why are there so many different types and sizes of penguins, who live in virtually every far flung corner of the southern hemisphere,  yet fundamentally all have the same coloring?  This constant primarily has to do with how penguins make a living, which is in the sea.  But, being in the sea also means being a link in the marine food chain,  and it is in the water where  all penguins are most vulnerable.  That said, nature adapts and improvises, and over countless generations penguins have taken on their signature black and white coloring to protect themselves from potential predators as well as enable them to be stealthy hunters.  But, why black and white you ask?

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This adaptation is a type of camouflaging called counter-shading, which makes it harder for both their predators as well as their prey to see them from all sorts of angles.  When penguins are in the water, their white chests camouflage them from being seen from below against the lighter sky coming through the waters surface. From above, their black backs help them blend in with the darker, deeper ocean waters below them.  In the ocean, penguins’ really do need this natural camouflage from multiple predators that include seals, sea lions, and killer whales.  So, now ya know.

The Penguin Counters

October 9, 2013

Dear Penguin Place

Yes, we aim to inspire a whole new generation of field biologists! With just 24 hours to go on our Kickstarter campaign, please join us and share our links, so we can expand our film’s educational and science components.

When this new generation of young scientists visit the Antarctic, they will be treading on a visionary concept – a continent that is legally owned by no one and solely dedicated to the pursuit of science, peace and environmental conservation. The size of the US and Mexico combined, all 5.4 million square miles of this massive continent are overseen by the 50 member nations of the Antarctic Treaty System.

The way Ron Naveen got involved goes back to the early nineties, when the Treaty System outlined a need for baseline data on geographical and biological features in this fragile region. Having been an expedition leader in the Peninsula area, he knew which sites to visit and which had the most diverse species. With Oceanites already in existence, Ron secured funding from the US Marine Mammal Commission in 1993 to develop a plan for such a database. One year later with funding from the NSF’s Office of Polar Programs, the Antarctic Site Inventory was born.

From the start, penguin colonies were ideal for Ron’s study, which fit his passion for seabirds perfectly. With accessible nesting areas and population sites that could potentially be monitored from season to season, penguins offered the best clues on environmental changes. Unlike any other research project in the Antarctic, the ASI covers an area of half a million square miles, achievable only because they work ‘as nomads’, far from permanent research stations. Hence their data is comprehensive and unprecedented.

Yet with the size of the Antarctic, the penguin counters operate in only a very small corner of this astonishing continent.

‘It’s so quiet here,’ says Ron, ‘that all you hear are the penguins and your heartbeats thumping through your parka. It’s a place to study, a place to think, and of course, a place to dream.’

Please let these dreams include you. We are grateful for any donation, large or small. Funding beyond our goal will be used for extra science and educational materials – all important and very much needed to keep the research going.

Thank you so much!
Harriet, Peter & Ron
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Tackling climate change, one penguin at a time…

A Penguin Picture Worth The Wait

May 20, 2012

As told to the Penguin Post it took eight hours lying on the cold, hard ice in Antarctica to get the perfect shot, but for Penney Hayley the long wait was worth it.  The Western Australian photographer snapped this picture of an Adelie penguin shooting out of the ocean at Cape Denison in Commonwealth Bay during a cruise with Orion Expeditions.  “I love the look on his face,” she said. “I don’t know who got the biggest shock – him or me. “I reckon if he could have pedaled backwards he would have.” The image is one of the ten finalists in week 14 of the Escape Your Holiday photo competition in Australia Ms Hayley, 50, from Kununurra, took more than 10,000 photographs during the 19 day trip, but this was one of her favorites. “It’s a very restricted area and there’s only 100 people allowed at any one time,” she said.”We had a window of opportunity where we had really, really good weather which is quite good for Antarctica. “It was the most surreal experience. “The penguins are often getting chased by leopard seals.” While it looks like a predator in the background, Hayley said it was actually another penguin about to jump out.

Penney Hayley, from Kununurra in Western Australia, took this wonderful photo during a cruise to Antarctica.

Penguins Romancing The Stone

April 30, 2012

As crime waves go, there’s something very fishy about a series of thefts taking place at the London Aquarium.  As the mating season begins, ‘criminal’ Gentoo penguins have been stealing pebbles from rival nests.  This is not the Penguin Posts first encounter with penguin pebble thieves and we’re sure it won’t be the last, as with a stealthy glance over their shoulders, the fiendish birds quickly waddle to their neighbors’ unguarded nests, steal a stone and run back to their own nest.  In many cases it won’t be long before the ill-gotten stones will again be stolen by another bird or even the original owner. You can blame this circular crime wave on hormones more than anything else, but it’s a crime none the less. But as the number of break-ins increase, the Gentoos have become suspicious of their fellow colony members, and no one is beyond suspicion. If they notice a rival moving in to plunder their pebbles they quickly run back to defend their nests, keeping everyone on their webbed toes. The colony of 10, which arrived at the attraction last year, are in the middle of their first mating season at the aquarium. Males declare their interest in a female by selecting and presenting a ‘love token’ in the form of a pebble to their chosen female. If it is accepted, the couple then begin collecting more pebbles to line their doughnut-shaped nest. The birds build their stone nests to elevate and protect their eggs. Smooth pebbles are ‘like gold dust’ because they are easy to pick up and comfortable to lie on, according to those who tend to the birds. Hayley Clark, aquarist at the Sea Life London Aquarium, said extra pebbles had to be put into the enclosure after burglar Vladimir has conducted daily robberies on surrounding nests. She said: ‘Some of them are a little bit more tricky than the others, they keep an eye out for the owner of the nest before stealing. A couple of them will just run straight to a nest and will be chased off straight away. ‘They just prefer a certain type of pebble. Pebbles are like gold dust to these guys. ‘The male works out where he wants his nest and that is when he starts collecting pebbles. The female will join in as well after he has given her a few pebbles to place in the nest how she wants it. ‘It is like giving your girlfriend chocolate.’ Ms Clark added that there has been ‘a few tiffs’ over pebble thefts. ‘They will run over pretty sharpish and tell them where to go,’ she said. ‘It can get a little bit aggressive but they generally back away very quickly.’ No eggs have been seen yet but breeders are hoping that a few will turn up in the next few weeks. The pilfering activities of pesky penguins were also featured in the BBC’s Frozen Planet when crews captured Adelie penguins performing a similar thefts while filming in Antarctica.

Penguins keeping an eye on their precious pebbles.

Planning For International Penguin Day

April 5, 2012

How will you celebrate International Penguin Day this year?  We’re giving you about three weeks notice to make your plans and act (waddle) accordingly on this most sacred of penguin holidays. So what is International Penguin Day and when did it begin?  About 20 years ago I read an article in the Science Times about researchers at McMurdo Station in Antarctica who noticed that every year, like clockwork, on April 25th a colony of Adelie penguins returned from months at sea to the same spot on the same day every year.  These scientists and their support crew marked it on the calendar and would make a day of it, gathering near the shore to welcome the penguins who would arrive by the hundreds right on schedule every year.  It became almost an official holiday at McMurdo known as to the staff as Penguin Day.  So when I read the article in The Times, I became intrigued and contacted some folks I knew who had worked at McMurdo Station.  They confirmed and expanded on the story and then passed I it 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.  Within a couple of years with the dawn of the internet word spread and it took on a life of its own to the point where it’s now an internationally celebrated niche holiday.  So, did Penguin Place usher in International (World) Penguin Day?  Not really. The very cool Adelie penguins around McMurdo Research Station did, and their legendary exact timetable of migration that delighted the staff at the base was all it needed.  By the time the Penguin Post got hold of the story it was already widely known from the N.Y. Times Science Section story, but obviously a write up in the Penguin Post (read by penguin lovers around the world) certainly didn’t hurt spread the word.   So, you now have three weeks to prepare yourself to have a wonderful World Penguin Day.  What should you do?  Have fun and try to do something penguinish, whether dressing in black and white, wearing penguin apparel and / or accessories, eating fish (healthy), waddling every now and then, watching a penguin video (be it a nature film, animated or something like Mr. Popper’s Penguins), read about penguins, visit penguins at your local zoo or aquarium, or maybe treating yourself by buying up hordes of penguin merchandise.

Adelie penguins arriving on the Antarctic mainland every year on April 25th.

Everything You Wanted To Know About Penguins

April 26, 2011

Since today is International Penguin Day we at Penguin Place thought we’d put out a simple, fun and sort of complete guide to the wonderful world of penguins courtesy of the wonderful Kidzone Penguin Facts Pages.

Penguins are birds with black and white feathers and a funny waddle.  But unlike most birds, penguins are not able to fly — in the air that is.  Penguins spend as much as 75% of their time underwater, searching for food in the ocean.  When they are in the water, they dive and flap their wings.  It looks just like they are flying!

Penguins are shaped like a torpedo.  Their body is built for the most efficient swimming with their average speed in the water being about 15 miles per hour.
Airborne Penguins
The only time penguins are airborn is when they leap out of the water.  Penguins will often do this to get a gulp of air before diving back down for fish.  Penguins cannot breathe underwater, though they are able to hold their breath for a long time.  They also use their ability to leap out of the water to get from the ocean onto land if there are cliffs or ice flows to deal with.
Temperature
Penguins spend a lot of time dealing with temperature.  They are warm blooded, just like people with a normal body temperature of about 100 degrees F. So how do they stay warm in the cold places they live and in the icy cold waters? Just like whales, penguins have a layer of fat under their skin called “blubber”.  Overtop of this they are covered with fluffy “down” feathers and overtop of those they have their outer feathers which overlap to seal in warmth.  Penguins rub oil from a gland onto their feathers to help make them waterproof and windproof.
Dinner Time
Penguins eat seafood.  Their main diet is fish, though they’ll also eat squid, small shrimplike animals called “krill” (see photo to the right) and crustaceans. If you look closely at a penguin’s bill you’ll notice a hook at the end, perfect for grabbing dinner.  They also have backward facing bristles on their tongues that helps slippery seafood from getting away. Penguins don’t live near freshwater — at least none that isn’t frozen.  Instead they drink salt water.  They have a special gland in their bodies that takes the salt out of the water they drink and pushes it out of grooves in their bill.  A handy in-house filtration system!
Just a Boy and a Girl…
During the mating season penguins head for special nesting areas on the shore.  The area where penguins mate, nest and raise their chicks is called a “rookery”. When penguins are ready to mate, the male stands with his back arched and wings stretched.  He makes a loud call and struts about to attract a female. When the penguins find a mate, they bond with each other by touching necks and slapping each other on the back with their flippers.  They also “sing” to each other so they learn to recognize each other’s voices. Once a penguin finds a mate, they usually stay together for years — for as long as they have chicks.
Penguins don’t jump, they BOUNCE!
Penguins don’t live in the best habitats for finding nesting material, so they have to make do with what they can find. Rockhopper penguins build their nests on steep rocky areas.  To get there, they hold both feet together and bounce from ledge to ledge (imagine Winnie the Pooh’s Tigger with wings and you’ve got the idea).  These birds can bounce up to 5 feet! Magellanic penguins dig burrows under the ground to form huge “cities” similar to gophers. Adelies and chinstrap penguins use rocks to build their nests.  The perfect rock is a rare commodity for these birds.  They’ll often fight over or steal each other’s stones!

Adelie and Chinstrap Penguins

Penguin Chicks
As soon as the egg is laid (penguins lay one or two eggs at a time), the female dashes out for dinner, leaving the male to watch the nest. When the female returns (it can take up to two weeks for her to come back) it’s the male’s turn to head out for food, leaving the female with the egg. When the chick hatches, it immediately starts calling so that its parents will learn to recognize its voice.
Penguin Predators
Penguins are a food source for a number of marine mammals, especially leopard seals.  These seals hide under ice flows and wait for their prey.  Other marine mammal predators are sea lions and orcas. The penguins aren’t without protection though.  Their white bellies blend with the snow and sunlight making it difficult for an underwater predator to see them.  Penguins are also eaten by a number of birds — for example, the Australian sea eagle and the Skua.  The penguins black backs blend against the dark ocean water, making it more difficult to spot them from above. Penguins also have a number of on-land predators like ferrets, cats, snakes, lizards, foxes and rats.
Playful Penguin Pastimes
Between staying warm, raising chicks, finding food and avoiding predators, a penguin’s life may not sound like much fun.  But penguins have some playful pastimes — many of which are surprisingly similar to human hobbies!
Tobogganing:  Penguins lie on their belly and toboggan through the ice and snow.  This helps them move quickly.
Surfing:  Penguins are often seen surfing through the waves onto land.
Penguin Habitat
There are 17 species of penguin, each slightly different.  Some of the species have nicknames which can cause people to think there are more than 17 species (for example the Little penguin is also known as the Blue penguin).All of the species live in the Southern hemisphere.  Many live at the South Pole on Antarctica.  But some don’t live in such cold places.  They are found on the coasts of South America, Africa, Australia, New Zealand and the Galapagos Islands.  The Emperor penguin is the only species that breeds and nests in Antarctica through the frigid winter.
Adelie Penguins
Adelie penguins are the smallest of the Antarctic penguins.  One way to distinguish them from the other penguins is by their all black head and the white ring around their eye. Adelie penguins were named after the wife of a French explorer in the 1830s.  They are about 2 feet tall and weigh 8 or 9 pounds.  Their diet is mainly fish.
Adelies build their nests of stones on the rocky beaches of Antarctica, jealously guarding and often fighting over the best rocks. There are over 2.5 million breeding pairs living in Antarctica.  They live in groups of about 10,000 birds.

Adelie Penguin

African Penguins
African penguins have a black upside down U-shape on their neck with black speckles on their chest.  They are about 2 feet tall and weigh between 7 and 11 pounds.
African penguins live and breed on the coast of South Africa.  People have hunted these penguins so much that their numbers declined from at least one million to about 150,000.  They are now a protected species, but are still caused trouble by oil spills off the coast of Africa. African penguins are also known as the Blackfoot penguin.
Chinstrap Penguins
Chinstrap penguins get their name from the small black band that runs under their chin.  They are about 2 feet tall and weigh about 10 pounds.  They feed on krill and fish. Chinstrap penguins are the most common penguins with a population of about 13 million.  They often live on large icebergs on the open ocean in the Antarctic region.

Chinstrap Penguin

Emperor Penguins
Emperor penguins are the largest penguin species.  They are nearly 4 feet tall and weigh up to 90 pounds.  Those are BIG penguins! Emperor penguins are easily identifiable by their size and the orange “glow” on their cheeks. Emperor penguins live, year round, in the Antarctic. Temperatures can fall as low as -140 degrees Fahrenheit (-60 degrees Celsius).   Most penguin species lay two eggs at a time, but due to the difficulty of raising chicks in such a harsh climate, the Emperor penguin only lays one egg.

Emperor Penguin

Most penguin species take turns warming the egg, but it’s up to the Emperor penguin dads to do all the work once the egg is laid.  The male stands with the egg on his feet under a brood pouch (for warmth).  He does this for up to 9 weeks, without food, waiting for the chick to hatch.  During this time, the male may lose up to half its body weight. Once the egg hatches, the female returns and the male heads out to the ocean to feed.
Galapagos Penguins
Penguins do not live in the wild in any location in the Northern Hemisphere.
But, one penguin comes close. The northern most colony of penguins are located in the Galapagos Islands.  The Galapagos Penguins can survive close to the equator because the Humboldt current brings cold waters to the islands from the Antarctic.
Gentoo Penguins
Gentoo penguins live on many of the islands of the Antarctic region but the main colony is on the Falklands.  They are about 3 feet tall and weigh about 13 pounds.  Their diet consists of krill and some small fish.  Gentoo penguins are easily identifiable by the wide white stripe over the top of their head.  It runs from one eye to the other.
Gentoo penguins make nests on the inland grasslands.  They pile stones, grass and sticks to create a circular nest.  Like the Adelies and Chinstrap penguins, the Gentoo will also fight over stones for nesting.

Gentoo Penguin

King Penguins
The King penguin is the second largest penguin and looks somewhat like the Emperor penguin.  They are about 3 feet tall and weigh up to 35 pounds. King penguins have orange spots near their ears and on the neck. King penguins mainly eat fish and some squid and crustaceans.  They are found on many sub-Antarctic islands including Crozet, Prince Edward , Kerguelen, South Georgia and Mazquarie Islands. Like the Emperor penguin, the King penguin hatches only one chick at a time.  Their chicks have fuzzy brown feathers for about a year after they are born.

King Penguin and Chick

Macaroni Penguins
“Macaroni” used to be a hairstyle in 18th century England. Didn’t you ever wonder why Yankee Doodle called the feather in his cap, “Macaroni”?  It’s not about pasta, it’s about a penguin!!   The Macaroni penguins were so named by English sailors because the yellow and black feathers sticking out of the side of their heads looked like an 18th century English hairstyle.

Stuck a feather in his cap and called it Macaroni

Magellanic penguins were named after the explorer Ferdinand Magellan who first saw them in 1519 on his first voyage around the tip of South America. Magellanic penguins are about 2 feet, 3 inches tall and weigh 9 pounds.  They are the largest of the warm weather penguins. They live on the coast of the Argentina, Chile and the Falkland Islands. During mating season, Magellanic penguins burrow, forming underground nesting colonies.

Magellanic Penguins

Rockhopper Penguins
Similar to the Macaroni penguins, the Rockhopper penguins have decorative feather tufts on their heads — theirs are yellow in color.  Their most unusual trait is their ability to hop from rock to rock to their nesting places.  They keep both feet together when hopping.  Using this method, they are able to hop up to four or five feet!

Rockhopper and Chick

Yellow-eyed Penguins

The yellow-eyed penguins have a band of yellow feathers going from the bill, circling the eyes and up around the head. The yellow-eyed penguin lives on the coast of New Zealond.  It is the rarest of all penguins due to the deforestation of the New Zealand coastline and the introduction of new predatory species to the island.  Sadly, there are only an estimated 1,500 breeding pairs of yellow-eyed penguins.

The rare Yellow Eyed Penguin of New Zealand

Real Live Penguin For Sale (well, sort of)

October 5, 2010

Against my daughters fervent wishes Penguin Place has decided to sell our taxidermy penguin which we have been in possession of since this past Spring.  Apparently this real live (at least he was in the 70’s) Adelie penguin was one of a set of two, the other purchased by Andy Warhol.  As for how to price it, I found the last taxidermy penguin that was offered on line was a Humboldt which went for about $3,000 (taxidermy penguins are quite rare), and we all know that Adelie’s are much cooler than Humboldt’s, so by offering it for the same price we figure it’s a bargain.  Call it the taxidermy penguin recessionary price curve.  In the meantime unless there’s an unexpected quick sale Mr. Popper (as my kids call him) will be on the way to school next week for show and tell.

Taxidermy Mr. Popper and adoring fan