16 July 2016

Dog owners prosecuted after little penguin deaths

AUSTRALIA - The Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS) and the Circular Head Council have conducted a joint investigation after 18 little penguins were found dead near a rookery in Stanley on Tasmania’s North-West coast last week.

PWS state compliance coordinator Justin Helmich said the dead penguins were forensically examined and predator attack was identified as the likely cause.

“As a result of that investigation, a number of people have been interviewed and an infringement notice has been issued in respect of a number of dog control related offences,” Mr Helmich said.

09 July 2016

King penguins keep an ear out for predators

UNITED KINGDOM - Sleeping king penguins react differently to the sounds of predators than to non-predators and other sounds, when they are sleeping on the beach. Research carried out at the University of Roehampton has revealed that even asleep, these penguins can distinguish between dangerous and benign sounds.

Both adult and juvenile king penguins are prey to large predators like orcas and giant petrels. Even huge non-predator elephant seals can crush penguins to death with their bulky passage. In an environment like this, king penguins who are exhausted after long diving sessions must constantly keep an ear out for incoming threats.

PhD student Tessa Abigail van Walsum said, "When we played single tones to sleeping penguins, they woke up with little reaction. However, playing them the calls of orcas or skuas caused them to wake up and flee."

08 July 2016

Penguin colonies at risk from erupting volcano

Chinstrap penguins.
Image © Harriet Clewlow
SOUTH SANDWICH ISLANDS – A volcano erupting on a small island in the subantarctic is depositing ash over one of the world’s largest penguin colonies.

Zavodovski Island is a small uninhabited island in the South Sandwich archipelago, part of the British Overseas Territory of South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands. Its volcano Mt Curry has been erupting since March 2016. The island is home to around 1.2 million chinstrap penguins – the largest colony for this species in the world.

British Antarctic Survey (BAS) recently remapped this chain of volcanic islands and was alerted to a 7.2 magnitude earthquake last month in the vicinity. Researchers confirmed from satellite imagery that not one but two volcanoes are erupting in the South Sandwich Islands – Mt Curry on Zavodovski Island to the north of the archipelago and Mt Sourabaya on Bristol Island to the south.

Caracal preys on African penguins in Simon's Town

Caracal caught on camera
SOUTH AFRICA – Camera surveillance has identified a caracal as the predator behind a spate of African penguin fatalities in Simon’s Town over the past two weeks.

The images confirming the large wild cat's presence were captured by trap cameras installed in the area by the City of Cape Town as part of its investigation into the deaths with Table Mountain National Park (TMNP).

01 July 2016

World's first successful artificial insemination of southern rockhopper penguin

Southern rockhopper penguin chick conceived through
artificial insemination. Credit: Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan.
JAPAN - In a world first, DNA tests have confirmed that a southern rockhopper penguin chick born at Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan in early June was conceived through artificial insemination.

The project was led by Kaiyukan in collaboration with Associate Professor Kusunoki Hiroshi from Kobe University's Graduate School of Agricultural Science.

Penguin populations could drop 60 percent by the end of the century

Adelie penguins at risk
Credit: University of Delaware/Megan Cimino
ANTARCTICA - Climate has influenced the distribution patterns of Adélie penguins across Antarctica for millions of years.

The geologic record shows that as glaciers expanded and covered Adélie breeding habitats with ice, penguin colonies were abandoned. When the glaciers melted during warming periods, this warming positively affected the Adélie penguins, allowing them to return to their rocky breeding grounds.

But now, University of Delaware (UD) scientists and colleagues report that this beneficial warming may have reached its tipping point.