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.