Good News!

Normally we get only bad news about the environment so I thought I would report about a hopeful story I read in the Calgary Herald.  Using satellite mapping technology, a group of British Antarctic Survey scientists has found that there are more than twice the number of Emperor penguins (Aptenodytes forsteriis) on the frozen continent than previously thought.  The distinctively marked birds were easy to pick out in satellite imagery, and the scientists were able to identify 44 colonies, seven of which were previously unknown.

The new technique may help with population counts of other species too.  Co-author Michelle LaRue from the University of Minnesota said, “The implications of this study are far-reaching: we now have a cost-effective way to apply our methods to other poorly understood species in the Antarctic, to strengthen ongoing field research, and to provide accurate information for international conservation efforts.”

So let’s find out more about Emperor penguins on page five!

1.From the aptly named emperor we learn that male Emperor penguins fast for two months over the winter while incubating the egg, which rests on their feet.  They sleep most of the time to conserve energy in the intense cold.

2. Emperor penguin breeding grounds are often called rookeries, according to Aquatic Community.

3. The Penguin Project says that because the Emperor penguin nests on pack ice, global warming is of significant concern.  Icebergs which calve off pack ice can get between penguins and the Southern Ocean, causing disruption to breeding and feeding.

4.For a time, New Zealand had its own Emperor penguin.  “Happy Feet” (as the bird came to be named,) came ashore at Peka Peka beach on the North Island, almost 4000 miles from his usual habitat.  After the bird swallowed sand in an effort to cool himself he was taken to Wellington Zoo for treatment.  Eventually he was released into the wild with an attached tracking device, but disappeared from view after only a few days.  Happy Feet’s fate is unknown but it is possible he has been eaten.

5. And finally, from Simple English Wikipedia we learn that Emperor penguins eat mostly krill, but also fish and squid.  They are also the only bird that lays its egg on ice!


One comment

  1. […] lover or not, a recent discovery of new emperor penguin colonies in Antarctica made headlines and are another example of how technology can improve our ability to […]

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