Rare king penguin in South Africa

King penguinFrom The Independent in South Africa:

A king penguin was found on a beach near Cape St Francis – possibly only the third one ever to visit South Africa, reported The Witness on Wednesday.

“It’s a freak visit,” said Professor Les Underhill, director of the Avian Demography Unit at the University of Cape Town.

King penguins inhabit the much colder climate of the sub-Antarctic islands and have not evolved for the African heat.

An adult king penguin is about 90cm long and usually weighs between 14kg and 16kg, compared with the African penguin which weighs about 4kg and is 40cm to 50cm long.

Underhill believes the bird’s visit may have something to do with moulting and suspects it came from Marion Island and had lost its way.

Penguins’ attractiveness to humans: here.

4 thoughts on “Rare king penguin in South Africa

  1. King Penguins may be best barometers to monitor climate change
    ANI Wednesday 4th April, 2007

    Washington, Apr 4 : The effects of climate change in terms of unusual animal behaviour, such as altering patterns of fish and bird migration is something very often heard off, and now scientists at the University of Birmingham are trying to find out whether the King Penguin can be used as an effective bio indicator to investigate and monitor this change.

    “If penguins are travelling further or diving deeper for food, that tells us something about the availability of particular fish in regions of the Antarctic. We may be able to assess the pressure exerted by king penguins on this ecosystem, and look at the effects of both climate change and overfishing in this region of the world”, said Dr Lewis Halsey who will present his results today at the Society for Experimental Biology’s Annual Meeting in Glasgow.

    According to him, a new way of using animals as bio-indicators is to ascertain their energy requirements.

    As part of the study, Dr Halsey and his colleagues measured the heart rate and energy expenditure of King Penguins whilst walking on a treadmill and whilst swimming in a long water channel, and obtained relationships between these two variables.

    They then implanted heart rate loggers in the birds going to sea so that they could infer the energy expended by these birds from the recorded heart rate.

    Researchers were then able to find out if there was a correlation between the energetic costs of foraging at sea and the levels of fish available to the penguins; that is, whether the penguins had to work harder when food was scarce.

    According to Dr. Halsey, King Penguins are good candidates as bio-indicators for several reasons.

    Firstly, while foraging at sea, they cover hundreds of kilometres and are able to dive to depths of several hundred metres, thereby exploring a relatively large portion of the expansive Southern Oceans. Secondly, the diets of several populations of King Penguins are well known, and thirdly, while they forage for food at sea, they come ashore to breed and moult, making them accessible to researchers.


  2. Pingback: King penguins, male-female difference | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  3. Pingback: Research on king penguins on the Crozet islands | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  4. Pingback: Big fossil penguins found in Peru | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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