21 March 2015

Seeking fish for injured yellow-eyed penguins in rehab

Julia Reid feeding yellow-eyed penguins
NEW ZEALAND - Limited fish stock remains to feed threatened yellow-eyed penguins in penguin rehabilitation centres in Otago.

The penguins have been hospitalised after suffering lacerations to their feet, legs and abdomen following attacks by barracouta, a predatory fish on the Otago coast.

A shortage of salmon smolt, which are the optimal food for hospitalised penguins, has lead to Penguin Place on Otago Peninsula and the Penguin Rescue Trust in North Otago to look for alternative fish to feed their patients.

07 March 2015

Two very important little penguins released back into the wild

Libby Hall and Commanding Officer HMAS Penguin,
Commander Paul Gall, releasing penguins off Fairlight Beach.
Credit: Madeleine Smitham
AUSTRALIA - Two little penguins from the famous Manly colony in New South Wales were released back into the wild this week after being looked after at the Taronga Wildlife Hospital while they underwent their yearly moult.

One penguin, Bernie, was found at Dee Why Point in December weighing just 500 grams, half the normal body weight for a little penguin.

After spending quite a while in the intensive care, she finally put on enough weight to go into her yearly moult. She now has a brand new set of feathers, weighs a kilogram and is ready to rejoin her colony.

02 March 2015

Genetics reveals where emperor penguins survived the last ice age

A group of emperor penguins is resting and preening
 next to a tide crack in the ice near the Gould Bay colony.
Credit: Dr Tom Hart
ANTARCTICA - A study of how climate change has affected emperor penguins over the last 30,000 years found that only three populations may have survived during the last ice age, and that the Ross Sea in Antarctica was likely the refuge for one of these populations.

The Ross Sea is likely to have been a shelter for emperor penguins for thousands of years during the last ice age, when much of the rest of Antarctica was uninhabitable due to the amount of ice.

The findings, published on 1 March in the journal Global Change Biology, suggest that while current climate conditions may be optimal for emperor penguins, conditions in the past were too extreme for large populations to survive.