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2013-04-25
World Penguin Day


MEDIA RELEASE

World Penguin Day

Cape Town, 25 April 2013 – Penguins have captured the world’s imagination,
with their comical waddle, beautiful plumage and almost human-like
qualities. World Penguin Day is on 25 April every year to raise awareness
about this remarkable group of birds.

World Penguin Day was started at the McMurdo Station in Antarctica after
scientists noticed a strange phenomenon. Every year, like clockwork, on 25
April a colony of Adélie Penguins would return from sea to breed. Now the
day is used to educate people and raise awareness about all species of
penguins. “Penguins may be one of the most popular groups of birds in the
world, but despite their popularity, in part due to movies such as Happy
Feet and Madagascar, many people do not realise that of the 18 species of
penguins, 11 of them are on the Red List of Threatened Species” says Dr Ross
Wanless, Manager of the Seabird Division of BirdLife South Africa.

Many species of penguin will be affected by climate change, but it is not
just those species such as the magnificent Emperor Penguin which live in the
Antarctic that will be threatened. Climate change will affect sea surface
temperatures, the abundance and distribution of food as well as the
frequency of the occurrence of events such as El Niño, which will affect all
penguin species even those at the equator such as the Galapagos Penguin.
Other threats to penguins include the introduction of predators to breeding
island, disturbance by tourists and researchers at breeding colonies and
commercial fishing. “This World Penguin Day, everyone can play a role in
saving penguins by encouraging world leaders to create two Antarctic
reserves that will protect penguin feeding areas from being exploited by
large-scale commercial fishing.” Dr Wanless urges.

It is not just the penguins that live in the cold waters of Antarctica that
need saving. There are several penguin species that never see snow, one of
these species is the iconic African Penguin. Found nowhere else but in South
Africa and Namibia, the African Penguin is one of the five endangered
penguin species in the world.

“South Africa has lost more than 60% of its penguins in the last 10 years.”
says Dr Ross Wanless. “And the decrease is projected to continue, unless
something is done”. The main threats to the African Penguin are a lack of
food around breeding colonies, the constant potential for large oil spills
and predation by Cape Fur Seals. BirdLife South Africa is focusing its work
on the lack of food by working with the government and sardine and anchovy
fishery to stop fishing around breeding colonies as well as doing research
into other ways to increase food security for the penguins.

“Members of the public can help our very own African Penguin, by supporting
BirdLife South Africa’s work through donating to the Save our Seabird Fund
and purchasing a penguin awareness bracelet” says Christina Moseley, the
Coastal Seabird Conservation Manager at BirdLife South Africa. “Celebrate
World Penguin Day by taking the time to learn something about penguins and
what you can do to help them both at home and around the world”.

The End

Adélie Penguin - Pygoscelis adeliae

 

The Adélie Penguin - Pygoscelis adeliae - is a species of penguin common along the entire Antartic Coast. They are among the most southerly distributed of all seabirds, as are the Emperor Penguin, the South Polar Skua, Wilson’s Storm Petrel, the Snow Petrel and Antartic Petrel. They live in groups called colonies and are preyed on by Leopard Seals, Skua and Orcas. In 1840 the French explorer Jules Dumont d’Urville named them for his wife, Adèle.

Description

These penguins have distinctive markings which are the white ring surrounding the eye and the feathers at the base of the bill. These long feathers hide most of the red bill. The tail is a little longer than other penguins' tails. The appearance looks somewhat like a tuxedo. They are a little smaller than other penguin species. Adélie penguins can swim up to 45 miles per hour (72 km/h).

Call

Adelie penguins are very social and communication with neighbors and mates is important. Mated Adelie penguins use calls to identify each other and their offspring.

Food

They feed mainly on Antartic Krill, Ice Krill, Antartic Silverfish, Sea Krill and Glacial Squid.

Breeding

The Adélie penguins breed from October to February on shores around the Antarctic continent. Adélie’s build rough nests of stones. Two eggs are laid, these are incubated for 32 to 34 days by the parents taking turns (shifts typically last for 12 days). The chicks remain in the nest for 22 days before joining crèches. The chicks moult into their juvenile plumage and go out to sea after 50 to 60 days.

Conservation Status – Near Threatened

This species has been up-listed to Near Threatened because it is expected to undergo a moderately rapid population decline over the next three generations owing to the effects of projected climate change.

Birdwatching

Ask Aves Birding Tours to create a custom tour for you to see these Penguins.


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