Penguins in Trouble Worldwide ( I'm close to tears )

To: Birding-Aus <>
Subject: Penguins in Trouble Worldwide ( I'm close to tears )
From: John Gamblin <>
Date: Tue, 26 Jun 2001 17:48:36 -0700 (PDT)
G'day All,

I've just had this superb article sent to me by a very
kind USA gentleman it's from thee New york times none
the less and I was wondering, that keeping in mind the
uproar that was generated last year on this list with
the shearwater/muttonbird deaths of over 2 million
birds, could there be a common link perhaps?

Gee those we don't murder by changing the planet then
we knock them senseless with a BIG CAT service eh

What a gorgeous day today ...... but I wonder who
stole our autumn and winter rain?

John A. Gamblin

Potters of to say thanks to he that sends and send
sender some Tim Tams and ANZACS ......
THE NEW YORK TIMES have taken up the penguin thing.

I noticed this when I looked at the NY Times site. I
am away from the house, but thought I would email
You can subscribe for Free to NY Times and they will
then email you specific topics as they occur in the
newspaper. Pretty neat eh. Excellent service. ( I use
the Travel and the World News ).

Let Come to You Sign up for one of our
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Penguins in Trouble Worldwide


Harry's habits were as predictable as clockwork, so
when he did not return from his last ocean voyage as
expected, Dr. Dee Boersma knew something was wrong.

"We had signals until Dec. 6," said Dr. Boersma, a
penguin researcher at the University of Washington who
encountered Harry ? a penguin outfitted with his own
satellite transmitter ? at a nesting area at Punta
Tombo, Argentina. Harry headed out to forage at sea
while his mate took her turn on their eggs, Dr.
related. "Then we never heard from him again. We
looked for him to come back every day. We just don't
have adult birds disappear like that."

But late last year and early this year, the summer
breeding season in the Southern Hemisphere, Magellanic
penguins like Harry did disappear at sea. Thousands
more washed up dead on the beaches north of Punta
Tombo. Many birds abandoned their nests, leaving
chicks to starve. Among the survivors, many were in
bad shape,
having difficulty finding the fish they needed to
sustain themselves. 

"This is the worst year ever," said Dr. Boersma, whose
studies of the colony over 18 years have been
supported by the Wildlife Conservation Society. "And
we keep getting a lot of bad years." Researchers say
the Magellanic penguins at Punta Tombo, which have
steadily decreased in number for more than a decade,
are not alone. Around the world, many penguin
populations are
declining, researchers say, and evidence is mounting
that global warming, whether natural or human-induced,
is a prime cause.

Unless things change, they say, the outlook for some
of these penguin species will be grim. Ten of the
world's 17 penguin species are already listed as
threatened or endangered.

Though a few species are thriving, penguins,in
general, are experiencing some really serious
problems," said Dr. Lloyd Davis, penguin biologist at
the University of Otago in New Zealand. "They are in

In addition to climate change, Dr. Davis said problems
like overfishing and oil spills threatened these
flightless birds. Penguins' best hope for overcoming
these many obstacles, scientists say, may be their
abundant adorability and the protection and money
it can bring. One typically thinks of penguins as
waddling about atop miles of featureless ice, but many
of the penguins at greatest risk are those species
that have strayed farthest from the South Pole.

The endangered Galápagos penguin, a tropical species,
is also one of the rarest. Found only on the Galápagos
islands off Ecuador, these birds have been hard hit by
rising temperatures. Dr. Boersma and others studying
the penguins have found that the warmer the waters,
the more the birds struggle to find food and to breed.
the warmest years, birds can fail to breed altogether
and large numbers of adults can die of starvation.

Two other South American penguin species, the
Magellanic and Humboldt, also suffer as waters warm.
Since 1987, the number of Magellanic penguins at Punta
Tombo has declined by 30 percent. It remains the
world's largest colony of the species, still numbering
in the hundreds of thousands, but, as with other
penguins, the downward trend has researchers worried.

"If we get a series of intense El Niños, they're going
to disappear," Dr. Patricia Majluf, conservation
biologist at Wildlife Conservation Society, said of
the colony of Humboldt penguins she studies, whose
numbers are also dropping. "We lost half during one
bad El Niño and these are very slow breeding birds."

El Niño is a phenomenon that comes and goes every few
years in which the waters of the eastern tropical
Pacific warm up, a change that can drive fish and
other penguin prey far from colonies. The result,
scientists find, can range from decreased egg sizes or
deaths of chicks to, in a few cases, large-scale
deaths of adults. In cooler La Niña years, colonies
can begin to recoup their losses. But in recent
decades, the number and intensity of El Niños has
increased while La Niñas have declined. As for Harry
and the other dead or missing penguins, researchers
now suspect that they succumbed to a biological toxin
like a red tide and again, scientists say the evidence
points to climate
change as the culprit. Such toxic blooms are
associated with warming ocean waters.

Dr. Boersma said she got her first inkling that
biological toxins might be at work when a freshly dead
penguin floated ashore this winter. "It had an empty
stomach that looked like it had been washed with
acid," she said, adding that otherwise it seemed well
fed and healthy. "He looked fine, except that he was

Other die-offs, also suspected to have been caused by
biological toxins, have hit penguins elsewhere.

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