Penguin News

To: birding aus <>
Subject: Penguin News
From: Laurie & Leanne Knight <>
Date: Fri, 30 Nov 2001 17:50:13 +1000
Wednesday 28 November 2001

Scientists investigate penguin deaths

Scientists at Australia's Mawson station have begun preliminary
investigations into the deaths of Adelie penguins at two island colonies
near the station. 

Australian Antarctic Division penguin biologist Lyn Irvine discovered a
total of 99 dead birds at two colonies during routine field work over
the past few days. The total number of birds in the colonies is around
15 000. 

There is no outward indication of why the birds died, although it is
likely that the deaths are the result of naturally occurring disease. 

Immediate steps have been taken to reduce any inadvertent spread of
disease as a result of human activity. Precautionary hygiene measures,
including restricting access to the penguin colonies and sanitising
boots and clothing, have been put in place. 

Evidence from long-term monitoring of Adelie penguins at Mawson suggests
that the occurrence of dead adult penguins in such numbers is rare and
warrants investigation. 

Ms Irvine will be undertaking post mortems at Mawson to obtain tissue
and blood samples for pathology, to be returned to Australia aboard the
Antarctic supply ship Polar Bird, due to arrive in Hobart in late

Australian scientists have recently led discussions in Antarctic Treaty
forums concerning procedures to minimise risks of people inadvertently
introducing disease to Antarctic wildlife or exacerbating naturally
occurring diseases. 

The current investigation is being undertaken in accordance with
protocols for managing such events, developed under the auspices of the
Hobart-based Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living

Further information: 

Dr Tony Press, Director, Australian Antarctic Division, 03 6232 3200 or
mobile 0419 399 009 Professor Michael Stoddart, Chief Scientist, AAD, 03
6232 3205 or mobile 0409 854 847. 
Peter Boyer, Information Services Manager, AAD, 03 6232 3515 or mobile
0417 562 196  
Australian Antarctic Division webside:
The CCAMLR (CEMP) protocols can be obtained at
Birding-Aus is on the Web at
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