Posts Tagged ‘Austrailia’

Snap A Penguin Contest

March 10, 2013

NIAGARA FALLS NY– With their comical waddles and sleek, tuxedoed looks, penguins can make inviting photo subjects. That’s why the Aquarium of Niagara is now inviting photo submissions for a contest to help celebrate the popular aquatic birds. The first-prize winner in the contest will earn a meet-and-greet with a penguin. Second prize will be an 8-by- 10-inch unframed penguin art piece from the Aquarium. Honorable mention will earn a 4 x 6 inch art piece. Winners in the contest will be showcased during a Penguin Days Celebration to be held March 23-24 at the aquarium.

Contestants are allowed to submit up to five photos of penguins – taken locally or anywhere around the world – for their entry. Deadline for the photo submissions is Wednesday. All entries will be returned. “Most of the photos submitted to us have been taken by locals who take photos here, but we did have someone once who went to the Antarctic and took pictures of other species,” recalled Dan Arcara, supervisor of exhibits for the aquarium. The aquarium boasts 10 Humboldt penguins, Arcara said. These include William, who dates back to the aquarium’s original colony settlement in 1978, as well as 7-year-old Bobbi, a female, and Chile, a male. William is at least 38 years old, but his exact age is undetermined because he was an adult when he was brought to Niagara, Arcara explained. “They generally live 15 to 18 years in the wild, and much longer in captivity,” Arcara said of the penguins. Arcara promised many more interesting penguin facts during the celebration, which he called “a very popular event” for the aquarium, typically drawing close to 2,000 visitors over the two-day span. “The Humboldt penguins are from Peru and northern Chile – from a warmer climate,” he said. “Most people think of snow and ice and cold when they think of penguins because of what we see in the media and in movies, but of the 18 known species of penguins, only a half-dozen are from the Antarctic region. The rest are from warmer climates in South America, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.”

In order to be part of the contest, all photographs must have the entrant’s name on the back of the photo with location and title. The contest is not open to aquarium employees or their immediate family members. Photograph submissions must be no smaller than 5 by 7 and no larger than 8 by 10 inches. Digital images may be submitted at 300 dpi or greater. Photos may be mailed to the Aquarium of Niagara, Exhibits Dept., 701 Whirlpool St., Niagara Falls, NY 14305.

Can a penguin take a bad picture?

Can a penguin take a bad picture?

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Penguins In Peril

August 4, 2012

The Penguin Post has learned that Australian researchers are alarmed at a dramatic decline in the population of little penguins on Penguin Island amid fears the trend could threaten the popular tourist attraction. In the wake of unprecedented marine heatwaves off Western Australia’s south-west coast, experts have warned the collapse of the local population is a harbinger for broader problems of climate change. Murdoch University research associate Belinda Cannell said the “anomalous” sea temperatures recorded over the past two years had driven away whitebait, the penguins’ primary food source. Dr Cannell, who has studied the penguins since 1994, said the slump had severely reduced the penguins’ breeding success and largely driven a fourfold increase in their deaths. Little penguins remained close to their colonies to feed their chicks each night, but this was being hampered by the lack of whitebait. She said other explanations for the penguins’ plight were more complex and probably included an increase in strikes from boat propellers as the number of people with pleasure craft soared. According to Dr Cannell, the island’s resident population of little penguins, with a smaller group on Garden Island, is the species’ northernmost population and could disappear in 30 to 40 years. “It is likely that we will see a real decline in the population over a shorter time scale, especially if La Nina conditions continue,” she said. With funding for her research into the penguins about to run out, Dr Cannell said she was seeking an extra $360,000 to complete her work into what was causing the decline. Despite a funding commitment with the City of Rockingham worth $60,000 over three years and support from the Department of Environment and Conservation, Dr Cannell said the money was needed for things such as satellite tagging and monitoring. Understanding what was happening to the penguins was crucial, she said, because they were a “sentinel” for WA’s marine health.

Research Scientist Dr Belinda Cannell checks the nesting boxes on Penguin Island. The islands resident little penguins have been dying in record numbers.

Katrina The Penguin Gets A Roomate

June 17, 2012

The Penguin Post has learned that an intrepid Fiordland penguin that swam 2000 miles to Australia will soon be joined in her recovery at an animal rescue sanctuary by another wayfaring New Zealander – a seal pup. Animal sanctuary boss Aaron Machado said 2-year-old penguin Katrina, who has been recovering at the sanctuary in South Australia since washing up injured on a beach five weeks ago, was unlikely to welcome the new roommate in the 2000 square foot wetland enclosure. “She’ll be pissed off that I’ve put that ‘wet dog’ in there. She’s the queen of that place, she’s the boss.” The seal, named Emma, was recovering after surgery to remove rocks from her stomach, Machado said. “We’re getting overtaken by New Zealanders.” It was not unusual for New Zealand seals to be seen in Australian waters, he said. Katrina was making good progress, rebuilding muscles and tipping the scales at 7 just over pounds, almost double her rescued weight. “She’s still a grumpy little snot, but we love her anyway.” Staff were waiting a couple more weeks for Katrina’s feathers to grow back after surgery on a large gash to her abdomen. Once she was waterproof, she could be released into the wild. The signs were good so far, Machado said. He still wanted Katrina flown back to New Zealand, despite comments by Michelle Gutsell, Department of Conservation Te Anau office species recovery team leader, that the penguin had a good chance of making it under her own steam. But Machado worried current and wind conditions could push Katrina back to shore. Australian zoos were keen to secure Katrina, but he was determined to stop that happening. “We just want to get this penguin back where she belongs.”

Katrina on the mend

Rare Penguins Rescued Down Under

January 11, 2012

The Penguin Post has learned that a pair of Northern Rockhopper penguins have been discovered far from their usual habitat on the beaches near the town of Denmark in South Western Australia. They are believed to be one-year-old Northern Rockhoppers which are normally found on Amsterdam Island in the southern Indian Ocean, about 3000 miles from Australia. Denmark vet David Edmond has taken in the two, which have come ashore to moult, for safety. “When they come onshore for a moult they usually lose all of their feathers and they can’t swim because they’re no longer waterproof and they grow a new lot of feathers and that takes about two to four weeks,” he said. “During that period onshore, they’ll find somewhere nice and sheltered and they’ll sit there nice and quietly.

The one year old Rockhoppers need some time to molt before being released.

“So, basically we need to make sure they’re somewhere safe and secure where they’re not going to get attacked by dogs or foxes.” The Conservation Council of Western Australia’s Nick Dunlop says there could be a number of reasons why the penguins, more commonly known as Moseley penguins, are being found so far out of their usual habitat. “There are lots of strange things happening in the ocean at the moment due to changing ocean temperatures,” he said. “If they’re having trouble finding enough food and it takes them too far away from their breeding islands then they may come ashore and moult on another piece of land somewhere. “They can’t moult in the water because they will drown.” “So, the most likely explanation is they’ve dispersed further than normal because food is in short supply and when they got up to moulting weight, they’ve been too far away from their breeding colonies and they’ve come onshore in Australia on the mainland to replace their feathers.” A researcher and penguin expert at Murdoch University, Belinda Cannell, has recorded a spike in the number of dead penguins turning up on the South West coast. She says another breed, the Little Penguin, have washed up dead in much higher numbers this year, dotted along the coast from Safety Bay to the mouth of Donnelly River. Dr Cannell’s explanation is the Leeuwin Current which was much stronger in 2010 and early 2011. The current comes from northern WA bringing warmer water of lower salinity with fewer nutrients, resulting in less food than usual for the penguins. “It seemed to have some sort of impact on the fish supply that the penguins normally feed on as we had more than normal that were being found along the shoreline apparently dying from starvation, so they’re really underweight, no food in their stomachs,” she said. “It’s a signal that they’re travelling further to find fish supplies of some fish stocks so it’s more indicative that there’s nothing available for them closer to home.” Dr Edmond says he’s seen an alarming increase in the number of Rockhopper penguins – five in the last 12 months, compared with one or two in the previous 15 years. “Hopefully it is just a coincidence and it’s not that we’re having an epidemic of it,” he said. “There’s always a concern when we’re finding more than one animal. “I was speaking to DEC as well and there’s also been an increase in the number of baby seals that have been stranded over the last 12 months so that also makes a bit of concern, thinking ‘is there something else happening out there or is it just the season with the currents the way they are?” he asked. The author of the Field Guide to Birds of Australia books, Ken Simpson, has spent half of his life researching and cataloguing rare penguins. He says there’s been a drop in their numbers. “All the penguins of the entire world are dropping in numbers dramatically everywhere, almost all, with a couple of exceptions,” he said. “Their numerical total world population of each kind, whether it be from one or two islands or from 30 islands, like the Macaroni Penguins, they’re all dropping so it’s rare that they’re edging into endangerment or areas of concerns.” Mr Simpson says there are all sorts of theories as to why. “There’s various pollution problems, there may be starvation problems, the odd oil spill doesn’t help, some of the seas are becoming a bit more acidic than perhaps they ought to be,” he said. “There’s a lot of melt water going, fresh water, around Antarctica at the moment because of the steadily melting bits of the Ross Ice Shelf,” he said. “Slightly warmer water doesn’t favour food production, little tiny creatures that feed the fish, plankton size bits and pieces don’t grow so well in warm water so it’s a great combination of things and it’s very hard to pin it down.” Dr Dunlop says a diminished food supply is a concern. “We do know it’s got to do with changes in ocean climate at the time which normally affects food supply, their fish move away or their fish abundance declines,” he said. “There’s a consequence in change in sea temperature or change in current flows. “Normally the climate-induced effects are much greater than the fishery ones but they may actually work in concert in some situations.” He is urging anyone who finds a washed up penguin to keep it cool and contact either Dr Cannell at Murdoch University or the Department of Environment and Conservation so the reasons behind their death can be uncovered. And, vet David Edmond is organizing to take the two Northern Rockhopper penguins to a nearby island to release them.

A couple of locals on the beach with a not so local penguin