New biosphere reserve in Argentina


This video is called Península Valdés, Argentina.

From Wildlife Extra:

A vast coastal wildlife haven in Argentina declared a Biosphere Reserve

Four million acres of wildlife-rich land in southern Argentina has been declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO.

Península Valdés is situated on a rugged peninsula on the Atlantic coast of Patagonia in the Chubut Province, and is teeming with wildlife.

It has the largest breeding colony of southern elephant seals in South America and supports more than 70,000 pairs of Magellanic penguins, over 10,000 South American sea lions, cormorants, gulls, terns, and nearly 4,000 southern right whales. On land the peninsula sustains over 4,000 guanacos and some of the highest densities of maras and Darwin’s rheas in Patagonia.

The new reserve includes a previously unprotected area known as Punta Ninfas, where large numbers of elephant seals, South American sea lions, imperial cormorants, terns and Magellanic penguins live.

This area is under threat from three nearby large cities and uncontrolled access by people using off-road vehicles. The new Biosphere designation draws attention to the urgent need for ensuring the protection of wildlife here.

“Península Valdés is one of the great natural wonders of Latin America with greater concentrations of wildlife than any other area on the entire coast of Patagonia,” said WCS President and CEO Cristián Samper.

“Making this incredible area region a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve is the culmination of years of hard work by many great partners.”

Adélie penguins monitored by camera


This video is called Adélie Penguins of Antarctica.

From Wildlife Extra:

Remote camera monitors penguins in remote Antarctic

We in the west are used to security cameras tracking our ever move but for a colony of penguins in the Antarctic it is a whole new experience.

Two prototype satellite-enabled cameras, developed by Cambridge Consultants and ZSL, were given to the project Penguins Lifelines, run by Tom Hart, which researches the threats to Antarctic penguins.

Both cameras are located on the Yalour Islands to study the Near Threatened Adélie penguins, and despite the frosty frigid conditions they … still send back up to eight images a day.

The cameras are designed to work in the most remote areas on earth and run on a single long-life battery, and use infra-red LED flash lighting to work at night as well as during the day.

Penguins are declining globally and these cameras could help scientists understand exactly why and help conserve those left. Currently penguin research relies on visiting remote colonies every year, which means only a small proportion of colonies are monitored.

“The unique thing about this system is the fact we can change the configuration of the system remotely using the Iridium satellites“, said Marion Campbell, from Cambridge Consultants. “We don’t need to be there physically, in order to, for adjust the timing delay between the trigger and the moment when the actual picture is taken”

For more information on the project click HERE.

The link at Wildlife Extra did not work; I have replaced it here with a working one.

Emperor penguins, new research


This video is called Emperor penguins – The Greatest Wildlife Show on Earth – BBC.

From Wildlife Extra:

Emperor penguins can relocate to beat global warming

Contrary to common belief emperor penguins are able to relocate to new nesting sites, a new study suggests.

The researchers from University of Minnesota used satellite images to monitor penguins on the Antarctic Peninsula and found six instances in three years in which emperors did not return to the same location to breed, and one totally new colony.

“Our research showing that colonies seem to appear and disappear throughout the years challenges behaviours we thought we understood about emperor penguins,” said lead author Michelle LaRue.

“If we assume that these birds come back to the same locations every year, without fail, these new colonies we see on satellite images wouldn’t make any sense.

“These birds didn’t just appear out of thin air – they had to have come from somewhere else. This suggests that emperor penguins move among colonies.

“That means we need to revisit how we interpret population changes and the causes of those changes.”

The satalite images also show that the penguin colony at Pointe Géologie is not as isolated as once thought.This news compiled with the other findings, could mean that the decline in numbers that took place during the 1970s, (from 6,000 breeding pairs to 3,000). was not due to decreased survival rates caused by the warming temperatures.

Instead they could simply have decided to relocate.

“It’s possible that birds have moved away from Pointe Géologie to these other spots and that means that maybe those banded birds didn’t die,” LaRue said. “If we want to accurately conserve the species, we really need to know the basics. We’ve just learned something unexpected, and we should rethink how we interpret colony fluctuations.”

See also here. And here.

British Overseas Territories islands wildlife


This video says about itself:

Nightingale Island Oil Spill

24 March 2011

Nightingale Island, part of the remote Tristan da Cunha group in the South Atlantic, was hit on March 16th, 2011 by the MV Oliva, a freighter carrying soybeans from Brazil to Singapore. Over 800 tons of fuel oil was spilled onto the island’s shores, poisoning the local population of endangered northern rockhopper penguins. I arrived on the site on March 23, 2011. This is what I saw.

From BirdLife:

Pioneering wildlife audit reveals 1500 exclusively ‘British’ species overseas

By RSPB, Tue, 20/05/2014 – 10:45

One of the world’s smallest lizards, a ‘spiky’ yellow woodlouse, a blue iguana, a flightless moth, a seabird thought to be extinct for three centuries and a predatory shrimp confined to just two rockpools, are just some of the amazing 1547 species unique to the islands of the UK’s Overseas Territories, which extend from the sub-Antarctic to the tropics.

The amazing haul of native and unique species, which have been highlighted during an RSPB wildlife ‘stocktake’ of the UK Overseas Territories, show these Territories contain at least 1500 endemic species: those species found nowhere else on earth. Compared with the 90 endemic species in the UK, the report shows that the UK’s Overseas Territories hold more than 94% of known unique British species. Staggeringly, the scientists compiling the figures have calculated there could be another 2100 endemic species awaiting discovery by science, as there are still many gaps in the understanding of the wildlife of the Territories.

Some of the species and habitats present on the UK’s Overseas Territories are found nowhere else on earth. Information from the better-understood wildlife groups, such as birds, reveals the severe conservation pressures faced by the wildlife on these islands, including habitat destruction, climate change and attacks from non-native species. The purpose of the report by BirdLife’s UK Partner, which was funded by the UK Government’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office, was to obtain a broad overview of the wildlife known to occur on each of the island Territories, including unique, native and non-native species. A further step will now be to assess the risk of extinction for these species. …

Dr Tim Stowe is the RSPB’s International Director. Commenting on the report, he said, “Our report shows that not only are the UK’s Overseas Territories wildlife jewels, but also they hold some of most globally important UK wildlife. This report reminds us that these species are solely the UK’s responsibility, and we need to ensure that the investment in conservation in the territories rises to a level that is proportionate to their world importance.”

Worryingly, only 9% of the species known to be unique to the UK Overseas Territories have ever had their conservation status assessed. The RSPB’s Jonathan Hall said, “Because there has been no assessment of the majority of these unique British species, we have no idea how they are faring: they could be thriving, or hurtling off a cliff. We simply don’t know, but we urgently need to find out.” The RSPB is reminding Defra, which has wildlife conservation responsibility for the Territories, to establish a scientific plan to assess the status of the 91% of the Territories’ unique species whose fortunes are unknown.

Rarest

Most of the rarest known British species occur in the UK Overseas Territories, including: Wilkin’s Bunting Neospiza wilkinsi, the rarest bird, with around 80 pairs, on Tristan da Cunha (S Atlantic); the Arlihau, the rarest known plant, of which only six individuals are known on Pitcairn Island (Pacific); the Ascension Island (mid Atlantic) predatory shrimp, the rarest marine invertebrate, confined to two rock pools; and the spiky yellow woodlouse, the rarest land-loving invertebrate, with only around 90 individuals on St Helena (mid Atlantic).

The report, the UK’s wildlife overseas, looked at the 11 UK territories that are oceanic islands or island groups.

See also here.

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King penguins avoiding wet feet, video


This video from the Falkland islands says about itself:

Penguin Dilemma

Cute, funny penguin couple overcome an obstacle in the rainy, windy elements. Shot near Volunteer Point in the South Atlantic Ocean by Carole Anne (babers201) and Ron. Edited by paulgrem.

Copyrighted by Carole Anne and paulgrem.

Music by Kevin MacLeod under Creative Commons by Attribution 3.0.

Songs used:

Danse of Questionable Tuning
Sneaky Snooper
Conflicted
Scheming Weasel faster

These are king penguins.

A study of how penguin populations have changed over the last 30,000 years has shown that between the last ice age and up to around 1,000 years ago penguin populations benefitted from climate warming and retreating ice. This suggests that recent declines in penguins may be because ice is now retreating too far or too fast: here.

Today’s vast amounts of melted sea ice, caused by global warming, have left icebergs free to roam for most of the year, and batter the boulders on the shallow seabed, and the sea life that thrive there: here.

Antarctic emperor penguins and global warming


This video is called Emperor penguins – The Greatest Wildlife Show on Earth – BBC.

From Wildlife Extra:

Antarctic emperor penguins may be adapting to warmer temperatures

January 2014: Antarctic emperor penguins could be capable of adapting to environmental change declares a new study. Four colonies were studied by scientists from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), the Australian Antarctic Division and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego in California.

Their results suggest that unexpected breeding behaviour may be a sign that the birds are adapting to climate change. It was found that when the sea ice formed later than usual penguin colonies moved from their traditional breeding grounds to the much thicker floating ice shelves that surround the continent. This is positive news for the birds’ future.

At the moment the emperor penguins’ reliance on sea ice as a breeding platform and concern about changing patterns of sea ice have both led to the species being designated as ‘near threatened’ by the IUCN Red List.

Barbara Wienecke of the Australian Antarctic Division said, “These new findings are an important step forward in helping us understand what the future may hold for these animals, however, we cannot assume that this behaviour is widespread in other penguin populations. The ability of these four colonies to relocate to a different environment – from sea ice to ice shelf – in order to cope with local circumstances, was totally unexpected. We have yet to discover whether or not other species may also be adapting to changing environmental conditions.”

Lead author, Peter Fretwell of BAS said, “Satellite observations captured of one colony in 2008, 2009 and 2010 show that the concentration of annual sea ice was dense enough to sustain a colony. But this was not the case in 2011 and 2012 when the sea ice did not form until a month after the breeding season began. During those years the birds moved up onto the neighbouring floating ice shelf to raise their young.

“What’s particularly surprising is that climbing up the sides of a floating ice shelf – which at this site can be up to 30 metres high – is a very difficult manoeuvre for emperor penguins. Whilst they are very agile swimmers they have often been thought of as clumsy out of the water.”

See also here.

Why does the Antarctic hold such allure for those who go there? Alok Jha speaks to explorers drawn by the power of the ice, the extraordinary wildlife, the adventure and the isolation: here.

How many emperor penguins live in the Ragnhild colony in Antarctica? Here.

Like an ice age radiator, heat from volcanoes helped Antarctica’s plants and bugs survive Earth’s glacial periods, scientists think based on the result of a new study: here.

Ancient Antarctic Atmosphere Dated Via Krypton | Video here.

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Antarctic poetry


This video is called PENGUINS, the Antarctic Wildlife.

From Slate in the USA:

Antarctica’s Poet-in-Residence

What endures and what does not?

By Jynne Dilling Martin

Jan. 2 2014 1:51 PM

The National Science Foundation sent Jynne Dilling Martin to Antarctica this winter (the austral summer) as an artist-in-residence. Below are two poems she wrote from there.

“Am Going South, Amundsen”

An oil painting of a jaguar eating an emperor penguin
is the start of a daydream in the Royal Society library.

Nineteen ponies wedged in narrow wooden stalls
sail south; they will soon go blind from miles of radiant snow,

lap at volcanic ash for a last smack of salt, be shot
and fed to dogs. For now they sway this way, sway that.

The magnetic needle dips. Only afterwards we ask if it cost
too much. Will this species be here tomorrow or not?

says the scientist to her assembled team. The ponies eat oats
in silence, the instruments keep ticking, the icy water

washes on and off the deck. A bell abruptly rings a warning:
oxidative stress, methane concentrations, too much heat.

The dragonfish lays her pearlescent eggs beneath the ice
and for ten months stands guard. The sea-stars sway this way,

sway that. We all hope for the best. The adaptive might survive,
the needy will not. Then again, the adaptive likely won’t either.

Sorry we realized too late: we wipe reindeer hair from our eyes,
the glaciated passages too dazzling to quite see clearly.

Soon this ship will be crushed in a polar storm; below deck,
pages of the Encyclopedia Britannica are read aloud,

shredded and used to light pipes. A century later
the preservationist draining antique food tins

sneaks a taste of raspberry jam. That night he’ll dream
he digs out a tomb on a glacier filled with bay leaves

still fragrant and green. The emperor penguin egg
tucked warm in the explorer’s pocket is delivered intact

to the receptionist desk at the Royal Geographic Society;
the robbery victim nestles a stone between his feet

and rocks back and forth at the bottom of the world.
Enough seal blubber can keep a single lamp burning

for a thousand years; enough knowledge exists to fill
twenty thousand encyclopedia pages. Lost friends

return to us in dreams, but come morning we can’t recall
what they wanted. Snakes, Snell’s law, Snowblind

curl up into hazy tobacco smoke. The amphipods
in test tubes begin to faint from next century’s

simulated heat; falling leaves fill the air of our dreams.
The biologist drills a hole in the sea snail’s shell

and slides a miniature stethoscope inside, listens
for the heartbeat: it’s beating, still beating, still beating.

Read Jynne Dilling Martin’s dispatches from Antarctica on the gorgeous and bizarre life under the sea ice; adorable, googly-eyed penguins; and stunning and dangerous ice formations.

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African penguins and physics


This video is called African penguins go for a swim – Mountain of the Sea – BBC.

From National Public Radio in the USA:

RoboCop? How About RoboPenguin!

by Adam Cole

January 01, 2014 3:06 AM

At the American Physical Society’s fluid dynamics conference this winter there was a healthy infusion of biology. In between talks on propellers and plane wings, there were presentations about flying snakes, fire ants, humpback whales and hummingbirds. Physicists from all over the world are turning to the natural world to help them solve engineering problems.

It’s not a new phenomenon. Otto Lilienthal, the “Father of Flight,” famously studied storks to help him develop his gliders. But it’s still a bit surprising that another scientist has turned to flightless birds for inspiration — specifically, he’s turned to African penguins.

Flavio Noca, now a professor of aerodynamics at Switzerland’s University of Applied Sciences, first encountered the power of penguins back when he was a grad student. He came across a paper that described the incredible acceleration of emperor penguins: from zero to 15 mph in just a second.

“I was just amazed by their performance,” Noca remembers. “That’s when, basically, I decided, ‘OK, I want to work on penguins.'”

It’s not just their speed that impressed him. Penguins can move side to side and make sharp turns effortlessly – things that underwater craft built by humans struggle to do. But very few people have studied penguins, so little is know about how these champion swimmers manage their underwater acrobatics

“There are just, for some reason, only two basic papers,” Noca says.

So Noca set out to learn more. He started by filming zoo penguins to track the exact movement of their wings.

“It was very hard because penguins have their own mind(s) so they’re not going to go where you want them to go,” Noca says.

But after analyzing lots of underwater videos, Noca and his students were able to describe the exact stroke of a penguin’s flipper. But they still needed a way to model that movement in the controlled lab environment.

This year, Noca’s research assistant, Bassem Sudki, developed and manufactured a completely novel joint mechanism that can mimic the stroke of a flipper. With the mechanical flipper churning in the water, Noca can better measure the flows and forces involved, and learn exactly how penguins achieve their maneuverability. He says someday this mechanism could help underwater craft dart through ocean.

The flipper mechanism was just one example of bio-inspired design on display at this year’s fluid dynamics conference. Many of the attendees believe they are on edge of a new wave of discovery. Scientists finally have the technology to not only understand mechanics in the natural world, but to actually replicate natural structures within human-made machines.

Nature, they say, can help engineers when they are stuck on a particular problem.

“Nature has been going through millions of years of engineering,” Noca explains. “And it has found one solution.”

It might not be the best solution, but it could be one that humans are able to imitate and improve upon.

Penguin evolution, new research


This video from Antarctica is called PENGUIN BLOOPERS.

From Phys.org today:

Cooler climate helped evolution of penguins

3 hours ago

Penguins waddled into the book of life around 20 million years ago and diversified thanks to global cooling which opened up Antarctica for habitation, a study said on Wednesday.

Scientists led by Sankar Subramanian of Griffith University in Australia sequenced telltale signatures of DNA from the genome of 11 penguin species that are alive today.

They compared these stretches to make a “molecular clock“—a way of calculating how species evolve on the basis of regular mutations in DNA.

By this yardstick, the forerunner of all penguins lived 20.4 million years ago, according to the paper, published in the British journal Biology Letters.

If so, penguins showed up more recently than thought. Previous estimates put their emergence at 41-51 million years ago.

Penguins then diversified around 11 to 16 million years ago to form most of the species that are around today, according to the study.

“This overlaps with the sharp decline in Antarctic temperatures that began approximately 12 million years ago, suggesting a possible relationship between climate change and penguin evolution.”

Penguin photographer in New Zealand


This video (in English, after a short introduction in German) says about itself:

Tui De Roy – A Wild Spirit

9 Dec 2012

Internationally acclaimed New Zealand wildlife photographer talks about her life.

From the Otago Daily Times in New Zealand:

A dedicated follower of penguins

By Rebecca Fox on Wed, 25 Sep 2013

Tui De Roy has travelled to the ends of the Earth in search of the perfect wildlife photograph.

Whether photographing the rarely seen northern rockhopper penguin on a South Atlantic island or the emperor penguin in the Antarctic, the remoter the better, for Ms De Roy.

During the production of her latest book, Penguins Their World, Their Ways, co-authored with Mark Jones and Julie Cornthwaite, she made an exception, visiting Otago Peninsula to photograph the yellow-eyed penguin.

Ms De Roy (59) and her co-authors were in Dunedin this week to talk to the Dunedin Photographic Society.

The book was a sister to an earlier one on albatrosses and together marked the end of a 15-year project for the trio.

It was during the work for the latest book that she fell in love – with emperor penguins.

She travelled to the Antarctic with the Australian Antarctic programme and was able to spend three days photographing the penguins.

”It’s very much the end of the earth. I was very lucky.

”The space, the immensity, the soft light and they were such stately birds. It was very other-worldly.”

Her dream was to spend one year in [the] Antarctic photographing the penguins‘ life for another book.

Such an endeavour was not that outrageous for the woman who has been photographing wildlife in remote places for many decades – including the Galapagos Islands, where she used to live – and who has produced six books in the past eight years.

Another highlight was photographing the ”outrageous” looking northern rockhopper penguins, as their remote location meant they were not often seen by people.

In contrast, she also spent four weeks camping in the Falkland Islands among four different species of penguins.

Her work required much time and the ability to be able to immerse herself in the environment, she said.

With the book out, she planned to take some time out before planning her next project.

One of the most “disastrous breeding seasons” in recent years has hit endangered yellow-eyed penguin colonies along Otago’s coast: here.