21 December 2014

Little penguin Bella released back to her mate Lucky

Bella having a final swim at Taronga Wildlife Hospital before
being released. Photo credit: Madeleine Smitham
AUSTRALIA - Little penguin Bella was released back into the wild to her waiting mate Lucky earlier this week after being treated at the Taronga Wildlife Hospital.

Bella was released off Manly's Store Beach by Taronga Wildlife Hospital Manager Libby Hall, Sydney Harbour National Park Ranger Melanie Tyas and volunteer penguin wardens.

Lucky had been seen swimming in the area nearby at twilight, looking for her. Little penguins usually mate for life and as it is breeding season it was important to get the two love-birds back together.

15 December 2014

World's oldest African penguin undergoes cancer radiation

Tess recovering after radiation therapy.
Photo credit: William Cotton, Colorado State University
USA - On 9 December a toddler peered through thick glass as African penguin Tess dove into her pool at the Pueblo Zoo. It was the penguin’s first swim since Colorado State University (CSU) veterinarians used specialised radiation to treat an aggressive form of skin cancer on her face.

At 40 years old, Tess is the oldest known African penguin, the matriarch of a dying species and a beloved member of the penguin exhibit at the Pueblo Zoo in southern Colorado. For the veterinarians who treated Tess for skin cancer in early December, she is a beacon on a planet with a dwindling variety of creatures.

“Some people would ask, ‘Why are you putting all of these resources into an individual animal?’ But, if this individual animal can tell a story that helps globally with the African penguin, then it’s all worth it,” said Dr. Matthew Johnston, a CSU veterinarian in Avian, Exotic and Zoological Medicine at the James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

Genomes reveal penguins' secrets

Adélie penguin close up.
Credit: Yvette Wharton – The University of Auckland
ANTARCTICA - Two penguin genomes have been sequenced and analysed for the first time in the open access, open data journal GigaScience. The study reveals insights into how Adélie and emperor penguins have been able to adapt to the cold and hostile Antarctic environment.

Antarctic penguins are subject to extremely low temperatures, high winds and profound changes in daylight. They have developed complicated biological systems to regulate temperature and store energy for long-term fasting.

Most studies have focused on the physiological and behavioural aspects of their biology, but an international team of researchers has now analysed the DNA of the two Antarctic penguins relative to other bird species, revealing the genetic basis of their adaptations and their evolutionary history in response to climate change.

06 November 2014

Killer stoat or ferret devastates local little penguin population

Little penguin
Credit: Department of Conservation
NEW ZEALAND – Autopsies conducted by Massey University's Wildbase have shown that the lethal wounds on 29 little penguins, found dead along the coast at Doctors Point near Dunedin, were caused by mustelid jaws.

Department of Conservation (DOC) Conservation Services Manager in Dunedin, David Agnew, said that the deaths will have a serious impact on the local little penguin population and demonstrate the devastation even a single stoat or ferret can cause to New Zealand's native wildlife.

“It’s going to take many years for the population to recover from this rampant attack – quite likely from just one stoat or ferret. It shows that these mammalian pests are hardwired to kill our wildlife for food or sport.”

29 October 2014

Intrepid pair bound for sub-Antarctic yellow-eyed penguin expedition

NEW ZEALAND - Two teachers will be spending the Southern Hemisphere spring in the sub-Antarctic after being selected to join the 2014 DoC Yellow-Eyed Penguin Survey in the Auckland Islands.

The Sir Peter Blake Trust, in association with the Department of Conservation (DoC) and the Ministry of Education, has presented Environmental Educator awards to Voyager NZ Maritime Museum Educator Frazer Dale (42) of Sunnyvale, West Auckland and Cromwell College teacher Christina Greenwood (52) of Wanaka. Their award will see them join DoC workers counting numbers of endangered yellow-eyed penguins while based in the sub-Antarctic.

28 October 2014

Penguin chick weights connected to local weather conditions

Adelie penguin chicks in Antarctica
Credit: Megan Cimino/University of Delaware
ANTARCTICA - Adélie penguins are an indigenous species of the West Antarctic Peninsula (WAP), one of the most rapidly warming areas on Earth. Since 1950, the average annual temperature in the Antarctic Peninsula has increased 2°C on average, and 6°C during winter.

As the WAP climate warms, it is changing from a dry, polar system to a warmer, sub-polar system with more rain.

University of Delaware (UD) oceanographers recently reported a connection between local weather conditions and the weight of Adélie penguin chicks in an article in Marine Ecology Progress Series, a top marine ecology journal.

24 October 2014

Rescued 'abandoned' penguin chicks' survival similar to colony rates

SOUTH AFRICA - Abandoned African penguin chicks that were hand-reared and returned to the wild showed a similar survival rate to their naturally-reared counterparts, according to a study published on 22 October 2014 in the open-access journal PLoS ONE by Richard Sherley from University of Cape Town and colleagues.

The endangered African penguin population has been rapidly decreasing since 2001. In the Western Cape of South Africa, penguins breed from February to September and moult between September and January, once chicks have fledged. If adult penguins begin the moulting process, a 21-day period where they no longer have the waterproofing necessary to dive for food, with chicks in the nest, the chicks may starve. 

Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) recovers 'abandoned' penguin chicks that are no longer being fed and cares for them until they can be reintroduced into breeding colonies. 

Researchers documented the care, release and survival of over 840 hand-reared chicks in 2006 and over 480 hand-reared chicks in 2007. Of those admitted, in 2006, 91% and, in 2007, 73% were released into the wild. Post-release juvenile and adult survival rates were similar to recent survival rates recorded for naturally-reared birds. 

10 October 2014

'Reactive' penguins more prepared for climate change?

NEW ZEALAND - As the global climate continues to change, the ability of many animal species to adapt is being put to the test.

John Cockrem of the Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences at Massey University suggests that a bird’s individual personality may be among the factors that could improve its chances of successfully coping with environmental stressors. He studied differences in the level of the stress hormone corticosterone that little penguins secreted when exposed to stressful stimulus.

01 October 2014

Recovered little penguin released after eight weeks in hospital

NEW ZEALAND - Having spent eight weeks regaining weight, waterproofing and practising her swimming prowess, a little blue penguin was for released on 29 September at Himatangi Beach.

Found on a Whanganui beach, the penguin was sent to Wanganui Bird Rescue, where wildlife rehabilitator Dawne Morton provided first aid before sending her on to Massey University’s Wildbase Hospital. The penguin was lucky to be alive. While blood tests, x-rays and samples indicated there was nothing medically wrong, she was starved and emaciated, weighing a mere 543g.

Wildbase Hospital staff slowly reintroduced food, until the penguin was readily eating salmon, which is kindly donated by Wildbase supporters King Salmon. Once back to her optimum body weight, the penguin was given daily swims in a shallow, free-flowing water pool, where she worked on her waterproofing. Her fitness was then tested in deeper pools. Two months later and a healthy 900g, she was considered fit for release back into the wild.

22 September 2014

New Fiordland penguin project underway

NEW ZEALAND - The West Coast Penguin Trust has launched an exciting new project to look at how predators are contributing to the decline of the threatened Fiordland crested penguins.

The Department of Conservation awarded funding for the 3-year project at the end of August this year as part of its new Community Conservation Partnerships Fund. The project is based at Jackson Head, south of Haast and is also supported locally by Geoff Robson of Greenstone Helicopters.

Trail cameras have been installed close to penguin nests around the headland. They have been placed in a way that will minimise disturbance during people's weekly trips to replace batteries and memory cards and to pick up movement of penguins or predators. The motion-activated cameras will photograph and video the action during the breeding season until the chicks gather into large crèches.

The Trust is joining forces with penguin experts Thomas Mattern and Ursula Ellenberg of Eudyptes EcoConsulting, who are investigating the marine ecology of the penguins. They will help with the trail camera work while they also monitor the penguins' movements out to foraging areas for their study.

The Trust will create a new webpage soon to provide up-to-date news and images from these exciting new projects. Both projects will lead to a greater understanding of the threats to and the ecology of these threatened birds, which will mean practical projects can be directed at protecting and growing the population.

To donate to the Trust and be part of this exciting new chapter in its work, please contribute here.

New Fiordland crested penguin project funded and underway, 17 September 2014, West Coast Penguin Trust

18 September 2014

Count Antarctic penguins from the comfort of your armchair

An automated camera set up by
the Australian Antarctic Division at
Whitney Point near Casey station.
Photo credit: Colin Southwell
ANTARCTICA - Always wanted to count penguins in Antarctica? Well now you can, with the Penguin Watch project, launched today by University of Oxford.

The project, led by ‘penguinologist’ Dr Tom Hart, is part of broader penguin health research, which needs volunteers to count penguins in thousands of photographs taken by automated cameras monitoring colonies for Australian Antarctic Division and UK scientists.

Online volunteers will count adults, chicks and eggs in photographs from some 30 Antarctic and subantarctic colonies of gentoo, chinstrap, king, emperor and Adélie penguins.

01 September 2014

Missing little penguin's sad fate discovered

Little penguins at Taronga Zoo.
Photo credit: L A Warden

AUSTRALIA – A call from the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) for information about a little penguin taken from Sydney’s Manly Wharf last week had a sad ending when it was revealed the bird had succumbed to its injuries over the weekend.

The distressed and injured little penguin was seen being put in a cardboard box on the east side of the wharf last Thursday, prompting NPWS to put out an appeal on Friday for information about where the troubled little bird had gone.

16 August 2014

Little penguins team up to hunt prey

AUSTRALIA - Little penguins are more likely to forage for food in groups, working together to target prey, new Deakin University research has found.

More than 60 little penguins (Eudyptula minor) were fitted with miniature GPS tracking devices at London Bridge in south-west Victoria's Port Campbell National Park so researchers could monitor their breeding patterns while searching for food.

More thought of as cute than predatory, the GPS devices showed the little penguins actually worked deliberately together to target their prey.

11 August 2014

Study looks at threats to the world's penguins

King penguins.
Photo credit: Pete Bucktrout,
British Antarctic Survey
A major study of all penguin species suggests the birds are at continuing risk from habitat degradation.

Writing in the journal Conservation Biology, a group of internationally renowned scientists recommended that measures are adopted to mitigate against a range of effects, including food scarcity (where fisheries compete for the same resources), being caught in fishing nets, oil pollution and climate change.

31 July 2014

What does the penguin say? Vocal variety in African penguins

An African penguin vocalising.
Photo credit: Favaro et al
ITALY - African penguins are highly social and vocal seabirds; they vocalise to communicate with their parents, mates and colony members. They are even known as jackass penguins because of their donkey-like bray. But, until now, descriptions of their vocal repertoire have been mostly limited to basic descriptions of calls.

A study published on 30 July in PLoS ONE provides the first detailed description of African penguin vocalisations: four different ones for adults and two for chicks and juveniles. The study was carried out by Livio Favaro and colleagues from University of Turin, Italy, on captive penguins at Zoom Torino.

13 July 2014

Strong links between Antarctic climate, phytoplankton, krill and penguins

Adélie penguins on Avian Island
along the West Antarctic Peninsula.
Photo credit: Donna Patterson-Fraser.
ANTARCTICA – A long-term study of the links between climate and marine life along the rapidly warming West Antarctic Peninsula reveals how changes in physical factors such as wind speed and sea-ice cover send ripples up the food web – from single-celled phytoplankton to Adélie penguins.

The study, published on 7 July in Nature Communications, is authored by members of the Palmer Long-Term Ecological Research (PAL-LTER) programme, which conducts annual shipboard surveys along the western side of the Antarctic Peninsula. PAL-LTER scientists began studying the fast-changing region in 1990.

Adélie penguin population on the rise

Adelie penguins
Photo credit: Michelle LaRue,
University of Minnesota
Adélie penguins have long been considered a key indicator species to monitor and understand the effects of climate change and fishing in the Southern Ocean. A first-ever global census of this penguin species shows that the population is 3.79 million breeding pairs – 53% larger than previously estimated.

By using high-resolution satellite imagery, researchers from Stony Brook University and University of Minnesota have applied a new method that lets them regularly monitor Adélie penguins across their entire breeding range – and by extension the health of the Southern Ocean ecosystem. Their findings were published on 9 July in leading scientific journal The Auk: Ornithological Advances.

05 July 2014

Emperor penguin in peril says study

Stephanie Jenouvrier and emperor
penguin chick.
Photo credit: Stephanie Jenouvrier
ANTARCTICA - An international team of scientists studying emperor penguin populations across Antarctica has found that the iconic birds are in danger of dramatic declines by the end of the century due to climate change. Their study, published recently in Nature Climate Change, found the emperor penguin is “fully deserving of endangered status due to climate change”.

The emperor penguin is currently under consideration for inclusion under the US Endangered Species Act. Criteria to classify species by their extinction risk are based on the global population dynamics.

27 June 2014

Finding elusive emperor penguins

Eastern emperor penguin
colony near Mertz Glacier
Photo credit: Robin Cristofari,
ANTARCTICA - Field surveys and satellites complement each other when studying remote penguin populations, according to research recently published in PLoS ONE by André Ancel from the CNRS in Strasbourg, France, and colleagues.

Emperor penguins living on Antarctica's ice sheets must face moving, breaking and shifting ice. Accurate monitoring of population trends is critical to understanding the ongoing rapid changes in Antarctic ecosystems. But scientists can find such assessments difficult because of Antarctica's remoteness and the logistical complexity of operating on the continent, especially during winter. 

22 June 2014

"Unexpected": emperor penguins may be willing to relocate

Emperor penguins
Photo credit: Michelle LaRue,
University of Minnesota
ANTARCTICA – The discovery of emperor penguin colony movement challenges the long-standing theory that this species returns to the same area each year to nest.

A new study led by the University of Minnesota offers new insights on the long-term future of emperor penguins by showing that the penguins may be behaving in ways that allow them to adapt to their changing environment better than we expected.

15 June 2014

Charting the rise and fall of Antarctica's prehistoric penguin populations

Adelie penguins.
Photo credit: Dr Tom Hart.
ANTARCTICA - A 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.

An international team, led by scientists from the University of Southampton and the University of Oxford in the UK and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in the USA, has used a genetic technique to estimate when current genetic diversity arose in penguins and to recreate past population sizes.

Juan the macaroni penguin tries the African penguin lifestyle

Photo credit: Living Coasts
UNITED KINGDOM - A penguin at Living Coasts in Torquay is turning the natural order of things inside out. Macaroni penguin Juan has chosen to nest in a way usually reserved for African penguins - a species that he wouldn't be likely to meet in the wild.

First-time parents 17-year-old Juan and his partner, 7-year-old Pebbles, have rejected the company of the other macaroni penguins on their rocky beach, preferring instead to breed down a hole, alongside scores of African penguins.

Declining penguin numbers on Marion Island most likely due to rising sea temperatures

SUB-ANTARCTIC - Numbers of penguins and other seabirds on sub-Antarctic Marion Island are declining, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) researchers have found.

An NMMU team returned from the island in May after a five-week research trip. Marion Island, situated in the Indian Ocean, is a part of South Africa. It is a breeding location for southern rockhopper, macaroni, gentoo and king penguins.

Over the last 20 years, the island's southern rockhopper penguins have decreased by 70% and macaroni and gentoo penguins by 30%. There are currently 40,000 breeding pairs of rockhopper penguins, 290,000 breeding pairs of macaroni penguins, and only 900 breeding pairs of gentoo penguins on Marion Island.

07 June 2014

Ralph Penguin: Coldwater Specialist

Ralph and his O'Neill wetsuit.
Photo credit: Marwell Wildlife
UK - Ralph the Humboldt penguin, international star and Marwell Wildlife resident, has been given a trendy new wetsuit for a second consecutive year thanks to Californian (human) wetsuit brand O'Neill.

During his annual moult, Ralph loses his feathers quicker than other penguins, leaving him exposed to the elements. For the past six years he has worn a wetsuit when he starts to lose his feathers to protect him from the sun and keep him warm on colder evenings. 

02 June 2014

Climate change and penguin physiology

Adelie penguins
Photo credit: Charles Sturt University
ANTARCTICA - What can penguin physiology tell us about how these birds are affected by climate change? As part of a multi-national team studying Adélie penguins, ecologist Dr Melanie Massaro from Charles Sturt University in New South Wales, Australia, is finding out the answers to that question.

Dr Massaro's research trip to Cape Crozier on Ross Island in January this year was her 12th visit to Antarctica. She started as a lecturing scientist on Antarctic cruise ships, before making her first journey as a researcher in 2007. Since 2009, she has been part of a team that includes researchers from the USA, New Zealand and France studying Adélie penguins in the southern Ross Sea. 

25 May 2014

It's a bird eat bird world for South Georgia's macaroni penguins

Macaroni penguins walking across
the weighbridge to their colony.
Photo credit: BAS
SOUTH GEORGIA - More than 10 years of data have revealed new information about the survival rates of macaroni penguins on the South Atlantic island of South Georgia, helping scientists better understand the threats they are under.

A research team, led by scientists from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), used the data collected from tiny electronic tags placed on the penguins' backs to explore year-to-year survival rates and uncover the biggest pressures on the population.

Their findings, published this week in the Journal of Animal Ecology, showed that one of the biggest threats the penguins face is predation by other seabirds.

18 May 2014

I'm king of the world! A king penguin's first year at sea

King penguins at Salisbury Plain, South Georgia.
Photo credit: Liam Quinn. Some rights reserved.
ANTARCTICA – You're a young king penguin, out on your own for the first time in the big wide ocean. Where do you go? In the first study of its kind, Klemens Pütz from Antarctic Research Trust and his colleagues used satellite transponders to track juvenile king penguins' first year away from home.

The results, published this month in the open access journal PLoS ONE, showed that the juvenile penguins explored new habitat and eventually learned to find food in similar habitat to their parents.

07 May 2014

Avian flu found in Antarctic penguins 'unlike anything else detected in the world'

Aeron Hurt with a penguin.
Credit: Aeron Hurt, WHO
Collaborating Centre for Reference
and Research on Influenza
ANTARCTICA – For the first time, an international team of researchers has identified an avian influenza virus in a group of Adélie penguins from Antarctica

The virus, found to be unlike any other circulating avian flu, is described in a study published this week in mBio®, the online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology.

Study author and Associate Professor Aeron Hurt, PhD, a senior research scientist at the WHO Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza in Melbourne, Australia, said that while other research groups have detected influenza antibodies in penguin blood samples, no one had detected actual live influenza virus in penguins or other birds in Antarctica before.

24 April 2014

Successful breeding season for Banks Peninsula penguins

Yellow-eyed penguin chick.
Photo credit: Banks Peninsula
Conservation Trust
NEW ZEALAND - Intensive management of yellow-eyed penguins on Canterbury’s Banks Peninsula appears to be paying off.

The very small population of the endangered penguins living on the south-eastern shores of the Banks Peninsula has grown, thanks to considerable predator control and monitoring of the local population by the Wildside Project.

The Project reported that six yellow-eyed penguin chicks were successfully raised this breeding season, an improvement on five the previous season. This is a small but significant increase for a population of less than 20 adults with seven nests this year, and several juvenile birds.

19 April 2014

Pest-free Macquarie Island now a penguin haven

Royal penguin on Macquarie Island.
Credit: M Murphy
via Wikimedia Commons.
AUSTRALIA - This month brings great news for about 2 million penguins: following a successful pest eradication programme, Australia's Minister for the Environment, the Hon Greg Hunt MP, officially declared that Macquarie Island is pest-free.

The programme was funded by the Australian and Tasmanian governments, which invested more the AU$24 million to ensure the World Heritage-listed island is preserved. Eight years ago, WWF-Australia and Peregrine Adventures invested AU$100,000 to kickstart the programme.

Mr Hunt said, "[The programme's] success is due to the hard work and dedication of scientists, ecologists, hunters and trainers and their remarkable detector dogs."

25 March 2014

Adélie penguin population approaches a 30-year high

ANTARCTICA - The Adélie penguin population in Antarctica's Ross Sea is booming, with numbers looking to be the highest they've been for 30 years.

While exact results of the latest census of won't be available for two months, current trends indicate that there could have been over a million Adélie penguin pairs breeding in the western Ross Sea over this Southern Hemisphere summer.

09 March 2014

Knit a jumper, save a penguin - or do you?

Update: The Penguin Foundation has responded to the issues discussed in this post in an article in The Guardian (11 March 2014)

AUSTRALIA - The Penguin Foundation's 'global callout' for knitted little penguin jumpers (sweaters) on ABC News has again raised the issue of whether these (adorable) woollen garments should be used on the birds after an oil spill.

22 February 2014

Little penguins: welcome to the eco-dome

AUSTRALIA - This month Flinders University in Adelaide, South Australia, welcomed two captive bred little penguins to its state-of-the-art Biology Discovery Centre.

The pair were relocated on 14 February from the Granite Island Penguin Centre, where they have been hand-reared. They will live in a specially-designed three-storey “eco-dome”, which is connected to animal behaviour laboratories in the $8 million centre.

19 February 2014

Disastrous breeding season for yellow-eyed penguins

A starving yellow-eyed
penguin chick in the Catlins
weighed just 3.5 kilograms.
Credit: DOC
NEW ZEALAND - Starving yellow-eyed penguin chicks are receiving supplementary feeding from penguin conservation organisations during one of the most disastrous breeding seasons in recent years.

Penguin Place on Otago Peninsula, the Katiki Point Penguin Trust in North Otago and volunteers, with the support of the Department of Conservation (DOC), are supplementary feeding the chicks to give them and their parents a better chance at survival.

A shortage of food for the chicks has resulted in low numbers of chicks surviving to three months and low weights, DOC ranger Mel Young said.

12 February 2014

Yellow-eyed penguins feed in straight lines off the Otago coast

NEW ZEALAND - A research team at the University of Otago has discovered that the endangered and endemic yellow-eyed penguin forages in straight lines for several kilometres by following furrows in the seafloor scoured out by fishing trawlers.

Using GPS dive loggers the researchers monitored the penguins’ movements over three years showing the birds use furrows scoured on the seabed by otter boards from trawl nets to find food, particularly blue cod.

05 February 2014

Climate change blamed for penguin deaths

Rain wets the down of a chick still
too young to have the waterproofing
its parent has.
Credit: D Boersma/U of Washington
ARGENTINA - Climate change has been documented repeatedly as an indirect cause of penguin deaths by reducing their food sources. Now it is killing chicks from the world's largest colony of Magellanic penguins directly through drenching rainstorms and, at other times, heat, according to new findings from the University of Washington (UW).

Too big for parents to sit over protectively, but still too young to have grown waterproof feathers, downy penguin chicks exposed to drenching rain can struggle and die of hypothermia in spite of the best efforts of their concerned parents. And during extreme heat, chicks without waterproofing can't take a dip in cooling waters as adults can.

23 January 2014

Emperor penguins closer to Endangered Species Act protection

Emperor penguins.
Photo credit: Michael Van Woert,
USA - In response to a petition from the Center for Biological Diversity, the US Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that the emperor penguin may warrant Endangered Species Act protection based on threats from climate change.

The most ice-dependent of all penguin species, emperor penguins are threatened by the loss of their sea-ice habitat and declining food availability in Antarctica.

“Our carbon pollution is melting the sea-ice habitat emperor penguins need to survive,” said Shaye Wolf, climate science director at the Center.

20 January 2014

Penguin centenary at Edinburgh Zoo

UK – The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) is celebrating an auspicious milestone this week: 25 January 2014 marks a century since the arrival of penguins at Edinburgh Zoo – the first ever penguins to be seen in Europe. Penguins have since become iconic for the Zoo, and the species was incorporated into the Zoo’s logo.

12 January 2014

Bottom-up research to understand penguin diets

Cawtron Institute senior scientist Jonathan
Banks at work in Antarctica.
Photo credit: Cawthron Institute
ANTARCTICA - What can penguins' poo reveal about how the birds are affected by climate change and commercial fishing?

Cawthron Institute senior scientist Jonathan Banks, a faecal DNA specialist, is applying his unique expertise to an international research project into the impacts of climate change and commercial fishing on penguins, killer whales and seals - Antarctica’s top predators.

09 January 2014

Antarctic emperor penguins may be adapting to warmer temperatures

Emperor penguin colony from the air.
Photo credit: Ian Potten
ANTARCTICA - A new study of four Antarctic emperor penguin colonies suggest that unexpected breeding behaviour may be a sign that the birds are adapting to environmental change.

Analysis of satellite observations reveals that penguin colonies moved from their traditional breeding grounds on the thin layer of ice (sea ice) to the much thicker floating ice shelves that surround the continent during years when the sea ice formed later than usual.