18 March 2017

East Antarctica's Adelie penguin population more than double previous estimate

ANTARCTICA – Scientists have their best estimate yet of how many Adélie penguins live in East Antarctica, numbering almost six million, 3.6 million more than previously estimated.

The new research by a team of Australian, French and Japanese scientists used aerial and ground surveys, tagging and resighting data, and automated camera images over several breeding seasons.

The researchers focused on a 5000 kilometre stretch of coastline in East Antarctica, estimating 5.9 million birds and extrapolating that out to likely global estimate of 14–16 million birds.

17 March 2017

In times of plenty, penguin parents keep feeding their grown offspring

A fledged juvenile Galapagos penguin.
Photo credit: Dee Boersma/Galapagos National Park
GALAPAGOS ISLANDS – Humans are not alone in continuing to support offspring who have “left the nest”. It happens in Galapagos penguins, too.

In a paper published online in The Wilson Journal of Ornithology, a research team led by University of Washington biology professor Dee Boersma reported that fully grown Galapagos penguins who have fledged – or left the nest – continue to beg their parents for food. And sometimes, probably when the bounty of the sea is plentiful, parents oblige and feed their adult offspring.

“Through field seasons over the years when we were observing penguin behavior in the Galapagos Islands, we saw these isolated instances of adults feeding individuals who had obviously fledged and left the nest,” said Boersma.

“And now we’ve collected enough field observations to say that post-fledging parental care is a normal – though probably rare – part of Galapagos penguin behavior.”

12 March 2017

Penguin hospital saves five percent of yellow-eyed population

NEW ZEALAND – The penguin hospital at Otago Polytechnic’s School of Veterinary Nursing has had 24 yellow-eyed penguins through in the last six weeks.

With only 250 breeding pairs in the wild this year, that means that wildlife vet Lisa Argilla has saved five percent of the breeding population.

“Yellow-eyed penguins are one of the rarest penguins in the world, and are unique to New Zealand.  If we don’t look after them now, they will die out” Dr Argilla said.