27 February 2017

Giant penguin fossil shows penguins may have lived with dinosaurs

NEW ZEALAND – The recent discovery of an approximately 61-million-year-old giant penguin fossil has lead scientists to suggest that penguin evolution started much earlier than previously thought – probably during the age of dinosaurs.

The fossil and its implications are described by Dr Gerald Mayr from Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum in Frankfurt, Germany and colleagues from Canterbury Museum in Christchurch, New Zealand, in the journal The Science of Nature.

26 February 2017

New guidance on hand-rearing decisions for endangered penguin chicks

African penguin chicks. Photo credit: SANCCOB.
SOUTH AFRICA – Researchers have developed a model to provide guidance on the likelihood of abandoned African penguin chicks surviving after they are admitted to rehabilitation.

Developed by researchers from the Universities of Bristol, Exeter and Cape Town, the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) and Bristol Zoological Society, it is the first model of its kind.

The use of rehabilitation for conservation is growing worldwide, with many research papers monitoring the success of individuals after their release. Rearing chicks that are unlikely to survive naturally could significantly contribute to the conservation of threatened bird species such as the African penguin.

22 February 2017

New study reveals over two decades of penguins' diets

Gentoo penguin chicks. Photo credit: BAS.
ANTARCTICA – The longest and most comprehensive study to date of what penguins eat has been published this month in the journal Marine Biology. It examines the diets of gentoo penguins at Bird Island, South Georgia over a 22-year period and is part of a project investigating the Southern Ocean ecosystem and its response to change.

Penguin parents forage at sea returning to feed their chicks every day. The research team, based at British Antarctic Survey (BAS), found that between 1989 and 2010 gentoo penguins ate approximately equal amounts of crustaceans (mainly Antarctic krill) and fish.

15 February 2017

Endangered African penguins are falling into an 'ecological trap'

AFRICA – As the climate changes and fisheries transform the oceans, the world's African penguins are in trouble, according to researchers reporting in Current Biology on 9 February. Young penguins aren't able to take all the changes into account and are finding themselves "trapped" in parts of the sea that can no longer support them even as better options are available.

"Our results show that juvenile African penguins are stuck foraging for food in the wrong places due to fishing and climate change," said Richard Sherley of the University of Exeter and University of Cape Town.

12 February 2017

Buster the penguin busted up again

NEW ZEALAND – The yellow-eyed penguin hospital at Otago Polytechnic’s School of Veterinary Nursing is full with healing penguins. One is even back for a second visit with wildlife vet Lisa Argilla.

Dr Argilla recognised the unlucky penguin while checking huge gashes across his abdomen and right foot. He was her patient in 2015 when he was flown to her at Wellington Zoo for treatment.  At that time, she had to amputate his right toe. She nicknamed the bird “Buster” and hoped that was the last she’d see of him. But he was recently found injured at Papanui Beach on Otago Peninsula.

07 February 2017

Annual monitoring shows yellow-eyed penguin numbers still a concern

NEW ZEALAND – The Department of Conservation (DOC), Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust and others have completed the annual yellow-eyed penguin monitoring along the Otago and Southland coastline. It's estimated that there are 260 breeding pairs.

This number is still of concern given historically there were between 400 to 600 breeding pairs and the current number is a repeat of last year – the lowest for 25 years.