Posts Tagged ‘Gentoo’

Penguin Protection Plan

June 7, 2014

About 75 percent of all penguins are threatened and the Penguin Post has learned that a campaign to double the area of protected reserves is being considered by an international commission.
Penguins are aquatic birds. They do not fly. Instead, they soar through the ocean. Penguins are especially adapted to life in the water, and therefore are affected by everything in it.

Adelie Penguin

Adelie Penguin

Penguins suffer from pollution and overfishing, which limits their food source. They are in danger from shipping traffic and oil spills. Climate change puts all penguin populations at risk, says Andrea Kavanagh, director of Global Penguin Conservation for the PEW Charitable Trusts. “Global warming is a problem because it shifts where their normal food supplies are, either farther away from them so they have to swim farther and farther away to get the food,” Kavanagh said. “And when penguins are nesting and trying to protect their chicks that’s especially a big problem for them, because the longer they have to leave their chicks the more open to starvation and predation their chicks are.”

Gentoo Penguin

Gentoo Penguin

Two-thirds of the global penguin population is endangered, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Eight species ‒ of 18 worldwide ‒ live in Antarctica or the sub-Antarctic.  The continent is one of the world’s last wild frontiers and home to 10,000 species including seabirds, seals and whales, as well as penguins. Kavanagh says PEW and partner groups are backing a plan to create two large marine reserves, which would set aside nearly three million square kilometers in the Ross Sea and East Antarctica, more than one-third of which would be a strict no fishing area. “Marine reserves help penguins because, number one, it would move fisheries away from where the penguins have to forage for food,” Kavanagh said. “And so it would give them a little bit more security when it comes to their food source in the face of a changing climate. The other thing that it would do is that it would take a big fishery that is happening, the krill fishery, and move that farther away from their foraging grounds.” The tiny shrimp-like krill is a staple of the penguin diet. But they are being harvested for fish feed and vitamin supplements. A commission created under the Antarctic Treaty, which governs the continent, is currently negotiating the fate of the reserves.

Chinstrap Penguin

Chinstrap Penguin

The 24 member states and European Union countries must come to a consensus. Kavanagh says every nation is on board except Russia, which has been reluctant to give up fishing in the proposed area. “The last couple of years we have been working with our Russian colleagues and with all of the other member governments to try to understand their problems and see if we can work through them so that this year, this October, we can have these marine reserves firmly established,” Kavanagh said. The meeting will be held in Tasmania, where the commission is based. The reserves would double the area of ocean worldwide that is fully protected.

antarctica-map

Vanessa Strauss, who heads a high-tech tracking and monitoring program at the South African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds in Cape Town, says accidents there have accelerated the birds’ sharp decline. “We know that some animals oiled at sea never make it to land,” Strauss said. “So, it’s really difficult to quantify the impact of chronic oil pollution over the long term. We can not only look at the number of birds affected by oil to quantify the impact, but we do know from research that many birds do die out at sea.”

 

 

Penguin Chick Born In London Zoo

June 3, 2014

The Penguin Post has learned that the Sea Life London Aquarium today proudly introduced its very first Gentoo Penguin chick as the team gave the tiny new arrival a routine weigh-in. The youngster, who weighted in today at 600g, was born to proud parents Arnie and Luna two weeks ago, and they’ve been carefully caring for it ever since, under the watchful eye of expert penguin keepers at the attraction.

Baby Penguin Born At The Sea Life London Aquarium

 

Penguin Fun Facts

April 26, 2014

In honor of World Penguin Day today—and just because they’re just so darn cute—we decided to round up some fun facts that you may not know about everyone’s favorite flightless bird.  Penguins!

1. All 17 species of penguins are naturally found exclusively in the Southern Hemisphere.

 

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2. Emperor Penguins are the tallest species, standing nearly 4 feet tall. The smallest is the Little Blue Penguin, which is only about 16 inches.

 

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3. The fastest species is the Gentoo Penguin, which can reach swimming speeds up to 22 mph.

 

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4. Penguins’ striking coloring is a matter of camouflage; from above, their black backs blend into the murky depths of the ocean. From below, their white bellies are hidden against the bright surface.

 

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5. Fossils place the earliest penguin relative at some 60 million years ago, meaning an ancestor of the birds we see today survived the mass extinction of the dinosaurs.

 

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6. Penguins ingest a lot of seawater while hunting for fish, but a special gland behind their eyes—the supraorbital gland—filters out the saltwater from their blood stream. Penguins excrete it through their beaks, or by sneezing.

 

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7. Unlike most birds—which lose and replace a few feathers at a time—penguins molt all at once, spending two or three weeks land-bound as they undergo what is called the catastrophic molt.

 

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8. All but two species of penguins breed in large colonies of up to a thousand birds.

 

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9. It varies by species, but many penguins will mate with the same member of the opposite sex season after season.

 

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10. Similarly, most species are also loyal to their exact nesting site, often returning to the same rookery in which they were born.

 

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11. Some species create nests for their eggs out of pebbles and loose feathers. Emperor Penguins are an exception: They incubate a single egg each breeding season on the top of their feet. Under a loose fold of skin is a featherless area with a concentration of blood vessels that keeps the egg warm.

 

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12. In some species, it is the male penguin which incubates the eggs while females leave to hunt for weeks at a time. Because of this, pudgy males—with enough fat storage to survive weeks without eating—are most desirable.

 

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13. Penguin parents—both male and female—care for their young for several months until the chicks are strong enough to hunt for food on their own.

 

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14. If a female Emperor Penguin’s baby dies, she will often “kidnap” an unrelated chick—but rather than raise it as her own, she soon abandons the stolen chick.

 

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15. Despite their lack of visible ears, penguins have excellent hearing and rely on distinct calls to identify their mates when returning to the crowded breeding grounds.

 

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16. The first published account of penguins comes from Antonio Pigafetta, who was aboard for Ferdinand Magellan’s first circumnavigation of the earth in 1520 when the animals were caught near what was probably Punta Tombo in Argentina. (He called them “geese.”)

 

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17. An earlier, anonymous diary entry from Vasco da Gama’s 1497 voyage around Cape Horn makes mention of flightless birds as large as ducks.

 

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18. Penguins evolved to stay in the Southern Hemisphere because there are no land predators, like wolves or polar bears, to take make quick work of the plump flightless prey.

 

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19. Because they aren’t used to danger from animals on solid ground, wild penguins exhibit no particular fear of human tourists.

 

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20. Unlike most sea mammals—which rely on blubber to stay warm—penguins survive because their feathers trap a layer of warm air next to the skin that serves as insulation, especially when they start generating muscular heat by swimming around.

 

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21. In the 16th century, the word penguin actually referred to Great Auks (scientific name: Pinguinus impennis), a now-extinct species that inhabited the seas around eastern Canada. When explorers traveled to the Southern Hemisphere, they saw black and white birds that resembled Auks, and called them penguins.

 

 

Penguin Personality Quiz

April 27, 2013

Who can resist those snappy little personality quizzes? Somehow it feels as though some great mystery about ourselves will be revealed, though it never is.

Still, you might have been spending a lot of time wondering whether you’re an Adelie sort of penguin or a Chinstrap. The people at Pew Charitable Trusts’ environmental group seemingly have been aware of how many sleepless nights you’ve had pondering this very issue, so they came up with a Penguin Personality Quiz.

The official reason is that  Thursday was World Penguin Day — because of course every month, every week, every day, is named for something, and I’m not just talking about the sun, the moon and Norse gods.

I’m not sure how we got into all this cute naming of days in honor of one concept or another, but in any case, penguins are apparently so cute that they take up two days every year — there’s also a Penguin Awareness Day in January — leaving very little room for all the other species whose habitats are shrinking.

And the real reason is to drum up support for a far more serious test later this year: Will two dozen nations plus the European Union vote to create a marine sanctuary in the waters off  Antarctica? Russia and China are the biggest obstacles to the idea, which is supported by most of the other nations.

Into saving penguins as much as Penguin Place? Then you might want to check to see if you have an Emperor in you. Penguins apparently have pretty simple personalities; the quiz is very short.