Posts Tagged ‘Emperor 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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Kevin Bacon is a Cute Baby Penguin

March 5, 2015

Yes, Kevin Bacon is indeed the name of an adorable new born King Penguin chick from Kentucky. The Penguin Post has learned that the Newport Aquarium in Kentucky, has a new baby king penguin that made his debut appearance Tuesday, and his name is Kevin Bacon (yes, he is named after the actor).  The name of the penguin was revealed to a group of third-graders from St. Francis de Sales School, Lebanon, during their visit to the aquarium.

Newport Aquarium senior biologist Jen Hazeres holds Kevin Bacon, a king penguin chick born Feb. 7 and unveiled at the aquarium Tuesday. He was due to hatch on Friday the 13th, so he was named for the actor who starred in the movie.

Newport Aquarium senior biologist Jen Hazeres holds Kevin Bacon, a king penguin chick born Feb. 7 and unveiled at the aquarium Tuesday. He was due to hatch on Friday the 13th, so he was named for the actor who starred in the movie.

The aquarium’s penguin population has now produced three chicks in a nine-month span. Kevin Bacon, who weighed 7.93 ounces when he was hatched Feb. 7, now weighs a whopping 2.5 pounds.  The chick’s expected hatching date was Friday the 13th, so he was named for the actor who starred in the movie. The chick’s parents are Bebe (father) and Wednesday (mother). He is the second chick the pair has reproduced. The aquarium’s king penguin population has produced three chicks in a nine-month span. There has been an average of only 14 king penguin hatchlings annually over the last 10 years at zoos and aquariums in the United States, said senior biologist Dan Clady.

 

Antarctica Penguin Perfect (For Now)

March 2, 2015

The Penguin Post has learned that Antarctic sea ice levels are perfect for emperor penguins.  That according to researchers, who have found the frozen continent has in the past been (if you can believe) too cold for the bird. A team of Australian researchers, including scientists from the University of Tasmania and the Australian Antarctic Division, has been investigating how emperor penguin numbers have varied over centuries.

6b8e1e81-3fcb-4a0a-b72e-4a225ae36f83-2060x1236The lead researcher, Jane Younger, said that despite emperor penguins being accustomed to temperatures of -30C, the last ice age seems to have been a snap too cold for them, when their population was about seven times smaller than in 2015. “Due to there being about twice as much sea ice compared to current conditions, the penguins were unable to breed in more than a few locations around Antarctica,” Younger said.  “The distances from the open ocean, where the penguins feed, to the stable sea ice where they breed was probably too far.” The finding suggests current sea ice conditions might be optimal for the emperor penguin population, but researchers have yet to determine the impact of further global warming.

Prehistoric Penguin Population Roller Coaster Ride

September 18, 2014

The Penguin Post has learned that a recent study of how penguin populations have changed over the last 30,000 years has shown that between the last ice age and up to around 1,000 years ago penguin populations benefitted from climate warming and retreating ice. This suggests that recent declines in penguins may be because ice is now retreating too far or too fast.

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An international team, led by scientists from the Universities of Southampton and Oxford, has used a genetic technique to estimate when current genetic diversity arose in penguins and to recreate past population sizes. Looking at the 30,000 years before human activity impacted the climate, as Antarctica gradually warmed, they found that three species of penguin; Chinstrap, Adélie and southern populations of Gentoo penguins increased in numbers. In contrast, Gentoo penguins on the Falkland Islands were relatively stable, as they were not affected by large changes in ice extent.

A report of the research is published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Lead author of the paper, Gemma Clucas, from Ocean and Earth Sciences at the University of Southampton comments: “Whereas we typically think of penguins as relying on ice, this research shows that during the last ice age there was probably too much ice around Antarctica to support the large populations we see today. The penguins we studied need ice-free ground to breed on and they need to be able to access the ocean to feed. The extensive ice-sheets and sea ice around Antarctica would have made it inhospitable for them.

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“What is particularly interesting is that after the ice age, all of these penguin populations were climate change ‘winners’, that is to say the warming climate allowed them to expand and increase in number. However, this is not the pattern we’re seeing today. Adélie and Chinstrap penguins appear to be declining due to climate change around the Antarctic Peninsula, so they’ve become ‘losers’. Only the Gentoo penguin has continued to be a ‘winner’ and is expanding its range southward.”

Dr Tom Hart of the University of Oxford’s Department of Zoology, an author of the paper, continues: “We are not saying that today’s warming climate is good for penguins, in fact the current decline of some penguin species suggests that the warming climate has gone too far for most penguins.
“What we have found is that over the last 30,000 years different penguin species have responded very differently to a gradually warming world, not something we might expect given the damage current rapid warming seems to be doing to penguins’ prospects.”

To estimate changes in penguin genetic diversity, the researchers collected feathers and blood samples from 537 penguins in colonies around the Antarctic Peninsula. The scientists then sequenced a region of mitochondrial DNA that evolves relatively quickly. Using the rate of mutation of this region of DNA as a calibration point, the researchers were able to chart how the size of these populations has varied over time. The team working on the project included scientists from the British Antarctic Survey and also US scientists from Oceanites Inc, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and the University of North Carolina, Wilmington.

“During the last ice age Antarctica was encircled by 100 per cent more winter sea ice than today,” says Dr Tom Hart. “As ice retreated, these penguins had access to more breeding sites and more open ocean to feed.”

Noodles & Albie Debut Reading and Penguin Party

August 29, 2014

To say our Noodles & Albie launch party / event / reading / slideshow at the White Square Bookshop was a success last week is like saying penguins are cute.  It was and they are, but it was so much more.  This being our first book and our first book public event made it unforgettable.  On the way to the White Square to set up that Sunday morning my daughter Sophie tried to keep me even keeled by saying, “Ya know dad, don’t get all bent out of shape if only five people show up”.  She had noticed that I had packed our little car with 30 of everything.  30 penguin goodie bags, enough penguin cheese crackers and peachy penguin gummies for a school outing,  a nice size box penguin prizes for the various contests we were to run, 30 plush penguins to give out with the books, and a case of 30 Noodles & Albie books.  

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I pondered what to wear and at first I wore a dress shirt with a penguin tie, jeans and sneakers trying to channel that unique hipster-doofus children’s author persona, but both my kids immediately vetoed it, and unanimously encouraged me to don a new Chilly Willy t-shirt and baseball hat.  I wisely followed their sage advice.  So with my little VW Beetle packed to the gills with boxes of penguins and two kids we set off and of course we arrived absurdly early.  I put Sophie and Rose to work making 30 snack cups of penguin crackers and gummies.  We then set out baskets of the penguin goodie bags, the fun multiple choice penguin quiz  sheets I made up,  Eileen, the owner of White Square, made a cooler of blue colored Penguin Polar Punch with marshmallows floating on the top to simulate mini icebergs (very clever Eileen).  Sophie wrote up some signage, “Penguin Goodie Bags, One Per Kid”, and  “Take Our Penguin Quiz: Win Prizes”.  We were done in 20 minutes, and so to keep my kids from destroying the bookstore with an hour to go before the reading we waddled down the road to Mt. Tom’s Ice Cream Parlor.  Every once in while I’d walk over to White Square to see if anyone had shown up, and soon a couple of friends, then a fan showed up, then Liz and her family entourage.  This was the first time I got to meet her extended clan so that was a treat.  While we were all chatting I turned around to find that the room was filling up and there was a line at the counter. Eileen was even selling books!  People who we did not know were asking Liz and I to sign the books they had just purchased!  By the time the reading was set to begin the place was packed.  I made an announcement that kids should sit upfront on the floor and adults in the back.  I climbed onto a stool with copy of Noodles & Albie in hand with Liz sitting to my left in charge of the slideshow manning the projector.  As Eileen introduced us I looked up and I could not believe how many people were there, kids and adults, friends, family and fans who had come from near and far.  I made a little speech about how the book came to be, introduced Liz, and began to read.  “After six long months of daylight, the sun was finally beginning to set on the Antarctic summer, and Noodles had not gone on his first swim…”

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When the reading was over, there was applause and congratulations. Kind of embarrassed I immediately launched into my penguin quiz, while Liz held a “how to draw a penguin class with the kids” that was a hit.  Sophie the quiz master checked answers and gave out penguin prizes according to how many correct answers each kid got.  Then more schmoozing and signing of books.  Finally, we held our kids best waddle competition, in which Liz’s mom Nancy must get honorable mention although it was more like a prancing pup than a penguin waddle.  All told there were probably 50  people in attendance.  Liz and I sold and signed 26 books.  The event was suppose to be from 2 pm to 3 pm.  I got home a 4:30 bringing a lot less penguins up the stairs than I took down the stairs earlier that day.

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On the way home Sophie said, “Dad, I knew it was going to be o.k., but I said not to get your hopes up just in case, ya know? Because I didn’t want you to get your expectations too high and have your feelings hurt.”  “And now?”  I asked.  “You and Liz kicked butt!” she said.

Giant Prehistoric Penguin Found

August 11, 2014
The awe-inspiring Palaeeudyptes klekowskii, at nearly 7 feet tall - believed to be the biggest penguin ever.

The awe-inspiring Palaeeudyptes klekowskii, at nearly 7 feet tall – believed to be the biggest penguin ever.

Penguins are adorable – their tuxedo plumage, their precious waddle with their little vestigial wings balancing them, their charming fluffy chicks resting on daddy’s scaly clawed feet. You look down at them and smile.

Now imagine one looking down at you. Wonder what he’d think?  Fossil penguins that are nearly seven feet long and almost certainly taller than you have been discovered on the Antarctic Peninsula by Argentine paleontologists, who have dubbed the extinct bird ‘Colossus’ by virtue of its awesome proportions.

More formally known as Palaeeudyptes klekowskii, it is the largest-known penguin ever to have walked (waddled) the earth.

It bears elaboration that penguins aren’t measured by “height,” but by “length,” because of their penguin-like posture. Their height is somewhat lesser than their length from beak-tip to toes. In the case of Colossus penguin, its beak was mighty long.  But, unless you’re NBA material, it most likely towered over you.

Experts had known that giant penguins had existed, says paleontologist Carolina Acosta Hospitaleche, who works at the La Plata Museum. They just hadn’t thought they got that big.

The breakthrough was when Acosta Hospitaleche found an astonishingly large tarsometatarsus – a fused ankle-foot bone – that spanned 9.1 centimeters (about 4 inches) on Seymour Island. It was the biggest ever found for a penguin, and from it she extrapolated that the bird was a hair over two meters long, from beak-tip to toe.

The biggest contemporary penguin is the Emperor, which is pretty hefty 90 lbs, and can max out at a height, I mean length of just about four feet.  Colossus was nearly three feet taller and weighed twice as much as the Emperor, around 250 pounds, say the scientists.

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Present Day Emperor Penguin and Chick

Sad to say this big boy went extinct some 35 million years ago, a time when the region was somewhat warmer, rather like the tip of South America today. The Colossus was one of many species – about ten, or 14, depending on classifications by squabbling paleontologists – of penguin on Seymour Island.

Modern-day penguins swim beautifully, but Colossus had stamina that beat the lot, able to stay underwater for 40 minutes at a stretch, says the team from Argentina’s Museum of Natural Science. Yet they went extinct.

All of this begs a question about latter-day penguins. The birds are famous for preferring cold climes. What will happen to them in the changing, warmer world? Some scientists believe they may survive through adaptation, based on evidence that colonies thought to have disappeared had actually simply upped and moved.

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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

 

Proud Papa Penguins

June 14, 2014

With Father’s Day tomorrow, the Penguin Post just wanted to remind everyone what a special breed the male Emperor Penguin is.  If there’s anyone who deserves a Father’s Day present (or perhaps a dinner) it’s these wonderful waddling guys.

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During the summer in the southern hemisphere – from about December to February – Emperor Penguins in Antarctica are at sea fattening up on squid, fish, and krill. As autumn approaches in March, the Emperors leave the water and begin a long trek many miles to one of several breeding colonies in Antarctica. There, they mate, and each female will produce a single egg.  She then meticulously transfers the egg to the male penguin where it delicately lays between his feet and lower belly to keep it warm and safe, then she leaves to spend winter in the open ocean feeding.

emperorpenguin_egg

During Antarctica’s winter – a frigid, endless night four months long, male Emperor Penguins huddle by the hundreds in the snow where wind chills can reach -90 F.  The male penguins guard the eggs and keep them warm from the elements.  For 65 days, each penguin incubates an egg. He cradles it on top of his feet, covering it with a pouch of skin. The egg will usually hatch around the time the female returns, at which point their mid-winter vigil will end around August as the sun finally peeks over the horizon coinciding with the return of their female partners.

Young Penguin Chick With Dad

Young Penguin Chick With Dad

By the time the female Emperor returns, sleek and full of food, the male may have lost 45% of his body weight. Ravenously hungry, he leaves to feed at sea. Fed by the mother the Emperor offspring grow rapidly in summer, while dad is taking in a well deserved meal or three.  However, fear not. Dad, will return in a few weeks. reuniting the Emperor family to take his turn to feed the chick.

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The male emperor penguin is the only species where this behavior is observed. By the time the egg hatches, the male will have fasted for around 115 days since arriving at the colony.  So, tomorrow raise a glass for the male Emperor Penguin.  The coolest dads in the world.

This Penguin Speaks!

June 12, 2014

noodlesandalbiefrontcoverIt was indeed a festive atmosphere at Penguin HQ in downtown Northampton last night, as a half dozen friends and wanna-be aquatic thespians gathered for the first historic recording session of the Noodles & Albie e-book audio files.   Although we’re not sure which version of Noodles and Albie is going to be released first (print or e-book), as they’re presently waddling neck and neck.

The hardcover picture book is on its way to the printer and is now scheduled for an early July release, while the e-book is laid out complete and only missing the fun, interactive audio tracks.

That said,  last night we began laying down the much anticipated audio files which will enable e-book readers to click on multiple penguin footprints in the page margins that will enable Noodles and Albie fans to hear their favorite characters.

Annicca reading Noodles

Annicca reading Noodles

There will also be all sorts of fun sound effects like water splashing when Noodles falls in the ocean.  Last night Dave (the narrator), Annecca (Noodles), Kate (Albie), Maze (Noodles Mom and Confused Starfish).

Narrator Dave

Narrator Dave

Sophie (as Sophie) and yours truly (Noodles’ Dad, Old Eel and Crabby Crab) were recorded at our Penguin Igloo HQ “studio” by head penguin recording engineer Chris Ryan.

A fun time was had by all as we attempted to bring Noodles, Albie and their colorful Antarctic world to life.  There will be at least one more recording session, and then comes the editing and mixing to finish the audio files.  After that, interactive penguin e-book here we come!  Everyone involved is really looking forward to the finished project in the next couple of weeks.  Stay tuned for official release date.

Kate is all about Albie

Kate is all about Albie

Giant Prehistoric Penguin Found

May 23, 2014

The Penguin Post is reporting that paleontologists working at Argentina’s Natural Sciences Museum of La Plata province have assembled the fossil remains of an ancient penguin that’s about the same size of most NBA forwards.  Although at first glance one can assume that its basketball skills would undoubtedly be dubious at best.   This penguin stood six and half feet tall, and lived roughly 34 million years ago. The team’s lead researcher, Marcelo Reguero said the newly discovered penguin species will “allow for a more intensive and complex study of the ancestors of modern penguins.”

Prehistoric penguin checks out his contemporary cousins

In this mock up a prehistoric penguin checks out his puny contemporary cousins

 

“This is the largest penguin known to date in terms of height and body mass,” said team member Carolina Acosta. She also noted that the modern emperor penguin (presently unavailable for comment), which grows to about 4 feet tall had been the previous record holder.

What this 6 1/2 foot tall penguin may have looked like

What this 6 1/2 foot tall penguin may have looked like next to a dead ichthyosaur

 

The fossil was located in northwest Antarctica, and the team plans to return during the region’s summer to attempt to uncover more fossils from the ancient penguin as well as study how it would have moved. Notably, past studies of other prehistoric penguins suggested that they may not have been black and white like the bird of today, but instead sported reddish brown and gray plumage. This is still a subject for debate and study.

Obviously it wasn't easy being a prehistoric penguin

Obviously it wasn’t easy being a prehistoric penguin