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Penguins: Promoting Polar Awareness While Melting Our Hearts
(Released August 2012)

  by Natalie Abram  


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Historical Newspapers

News Articles


    Bergman, Charles, Smithsonian, 05-01-2012


    The lives of penguins on South Africa's Robben Island are defined by the rhythms of their daily commute. Every morning, they parade down penguin highways to the sea, and every evening they return to their nests along the same paths, full of half-digested fish that they regurgitate to their whining chicks.

    I was crouched behind a camouflage net to avoid scaring skittish birds on their way home 'after a long day of fishing. My job was to read the numbers on flipper bands. Scientists have banded about 4,000 chicks and 40,000 adult penguins in this area over the past 33 years to find out how long they live and where they feed, swim and nest.

    Eight penguins, not yet tagged, teetered on the crest of a sloping rock face and stopped just a few feet away to soak up the last of the sun. These are not the world's most beautiful penguins. They don't have the aristocratic bearing and the polar mystique of the emperor penguin. They're not as brightly colored as the king penguin, with its glowing gold neck and nape, probably the most beautiful of all penguins. Nor do they have the shining yellow head feathers of the crested species, the macaroni and rockhopper penguins.

    The African penguin, though, is handsome in its own simple way. A single band of black loops around its white belly and chest, from foot to foot, like a horseshoe. White stripes curve around its black cheeks, giving the bird the appearance of wearing a white hood. A few black spots mark the chest, different for each bird. The only decorative flak is a patch of pink skin from eye to beak...

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    Marinao, Cristian Javier; Yorio, PabloThe Wilson Journal of Ornithology, 12-01-2011

    ABSTRACT.–We evaluated seabird attendance and incidental mortality at coastal trawl vessels targeting Argentine red shrimp (Pleoticus muelleri) in the Isla Escondida fishing area, Argentina, during 2006-2007 and 2007-2008. Eight seabird species attended vessels, and the most frequent and abundant seabird (percent occurrence, mean number per haul) in the two seasons was the Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus) (100%, 112.3 and 100%, 263.4, respectively), followed by the Blackbrowed Albatross (Thalassarche melanophris) (85%, 17.6, and 90%, 32.4, respectively). Eleven Magellanic Penguins (Spheniscus magellanicus) and one Imperial Shag (Leucocarbo atriceps) were killed in nets with a mean capture rate of 0.003 and 0.0003 birds per haul, respectively. The estimated total number of birds killed was 53 penguins and five shags considering the total number of hauls made by the fishery in the two seasons. No contacts between seabirds and warp cables were recorded. Coastal shrimp vessels generally operated between 15 and 20 km offshore, at a mean distance from the main Kelp Gull colony (Punta Tombo) of 43.9 km. At least 100 fish and invertebrate species were discarded, mostly Argentine hake (Merluccius hubbsi). Total amount discarded per season by this coastal fishery in the two seasons was estimated at 3,284 and 6,590 tonnes, respectively. The coastal shrimp fishery in the Isla Escondida area appears to have a small impact on seabirds in terms of incidental mortality but provides significant amounts of supplementary food during the breeding season of the Kelp Gull. Received 27 January 2011. Accepted 22 May 2011...

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  3. Reliability of flipper-banded penguins as indicators of climate change

    Nature, 01-13-2011

    In 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change highlighted an urgent need to assess the responses of marine ecosystems to climate change1. Because they lie in a high-latitude region, the Southern Ocean ecosystems are expected to be strongly affected by global warming. Using top predators of this highly productive ocean2 (such as penguins) as integrative indicators may help us assess the impacts of climate change on marine ecosystems3,4. Yet most available information on penguin population dynamics is based on the controversial use of flipper banding. Although some reports have found the effects of flipper bands to be deleterious5-8, some short-term (one-year) studies have concluded otherwise9-11, resulting in the continuation of extensive banding schemes and the use of data sets thus collected to predict climate impact on natural populations12,13. Here we show that banding of free-ranging king penguins (Aptenodytes patagonicus) impairs both survival and reproduction, ultimately affecting population growth rate. Over the course of a 10-year longitudinal study, banded birds produced 39% fewer chicks and had a survival rate 16% lower than non-banded birds, demonstrating a massive long-term impact of banding and thus refuting the assumption that birds will ultimately adapt to being banded6,12. Indeed, banded birds still arrived later for breeding at the study site and had longer foraging trips even after 10 years. One of our major findings is that responses of flipper-banded penguins to climate variability (that is, changes in sea surface temperature and in the Southern Oscillation index) differ from those of non-banded birds. We show that only long-term investigations may allow an evaluation of the impact of flipper bands and that every major life-history trait can be affected, calling into question the banding schemes still going on. In addition, our understanding of the effects of climate change on marine ecosystems based on flipper-band data should be reconsidered.

    The effects of climate forcing on primary and secondary production of the short austral food websmay be integrated at higher levels14,15, and thus amplified in top-level predators such as seabirds. This has led to a strong interest in studying Antarctic and sub-Antarctic top predators (especially penguins, which are major consumers of the Southern Ocean ecosystem) as sensitive indicators of environmental changes3,4. To understand how variability in marine resources affects their demography over the timescale of years, simultaneous investigations of variation in breeding success and survival are necessary and require long-term individual monitoring at the population scale...

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Historical Newspapers

    CONHURST, WILLIAM F. The Sun (1837-1986) [Baltimore, Md] 28 Feb 1937: MS10.

    Abstract (Summary) Improvements to Baltimore's parks have been few in recent years, but there is now room to hope that by June Druid Hill Park will blossom out with our long-awaited public aquarium, a showplace for a wide variety of water life, readily accessible to a public traveling either hy automobile or trolley line.

    Original Newspaper Image (PDF)

  2. Willie and the Penguins: Drama beneath ice shelf warms roving editor who travels to Antarctic to visit scientists and the 'little natives'

    CLEW, WILLIAM J. The Hartford Courant (1923-1986) [Hartford, Conn] 31 Jan 1965: 4F.

    Abstract (Summary) WHEN I left Antarctica last December the penguins were beginning to arrive.

    Original Newspaper Image (PDF)

  3. 13 Nations Support a Curb On Antarctica Krill Fishing: 12 Nations Joined by Poland '79 Meeting in Washington Assessment of Harvesting Voting Procedures Undecided Treaty Group Criticized

    By WALTER SULLIVAN. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 24 Mar 1978: A8.

    Abstract (Summary) A tentative agreement to protect a major oceanic resource before there has been any large-scale exploitation has been drafted at a 13-nation conference in Canberra, Australia. The convention could become a landmark in international law.

    Original Newspaper Image (PDF)

Taken from ProQuest's Historical Newspapers.


  1. Over-winter behavior and annual survival of Pygoscelid penguins in the South Shetland Islands

    by Hinke, Jefferson Thomas, Ph.D., University of California, San Diego, 2012. 3494692.

    Abstract (Summary)
    Pygoscelid penguin populations throughout the Antarctic Peninsula region have changed rapidly in recent decades. Ongoing climate change is thought to underpin these changes through bottom-up effects on habitat suitability and prey availability, ultimately affecting penguin behavior, survival and reproduction. To quantify winter behavior and energetic requirements required to support winter activity and to estimate population-level consequences of variation in survival rates under conditions of rapid climate change, this dissertation investigates two projects, each using a different penguin species.

    Daily activity and energetic demands during winter were estimated for gentoo penguins (Pygoscelis papua ) using data from archival temperature tags. Foraging trip frequencies ranged from 0.85 to 1.0 trips day-1 and total trip durations were positively correlated with day length. Mean daily food requirements, based on a mixed diet of fish and krill (Euphausia superba ) were estimated at 0.70 ± 0.12 kg day-1 . Early winter foraging trips matched day length better than late winter foraging trips, suggesting that individuals maximized foraging time during the early winter period to recover body mass following the breeding season and molt. The attenuated response of foraging trip durations to increasing day length in late winter may be related to differences in local resource availability or individual behaviors prior to the upcoming breeding season.

    To investigate population-level consequences of variation in survival rates, data from long-term mark-recapture studies of Adélie penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae ) were integrated in a stochastic population model to estimate the risk of local extirpation. No trends in survival rates were evident, and variability in survival rates was poorly explained by the selected suite of environmental covariates. Stochastic projections based on the extant variability of survival rates suggests that small increases in the frequency of years with poor survival result in a rapid increase in risk of near-term local extirpation. Compared to other populations of Adélie penguins around the Antarctic continent, survivorship and population growth rates were lowest in the northern Antarctic Peninsula region. Despite no simple correlations with environmental indices, it is readily apparent that Adélie penguins are vulnerable to the rapid environmental changes that are occurring in the Antarctic Peninsula region.

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  2. The Animated Animal: Aesthetics, Performance and Environmentalism In American Feature Animation

    by Miller, Rebecca Erin.Ph.D., New York University, 2011. 3466936.

    Abstract (Summary)
    This dissertation highlights the importance of the animated animal in American cinema and American culture at large. The ascription of psychic qualities to animals has its origins in ancient religious and mythological rituals, as well as more recent folkloric and pedagogical traditions, and its appearance in the animated cinematic form is a continuation of an age-old practice in the history of a wide range of cultures throughout the world. This project explores the ways in which "animating" the animal, in the sense of imparting mind, soul and motion to it, assumes a qualitatively different ontological form and a revised cultural purpose within the structure of the filmic medium. Drawing upon examples from American feature animation, I examine the ways in which the language of animation produces a new set of aesthetic conventions, from early Disney classics to the most recent computer-animated films, altering the formal representation of animals with the potential effect of influencing our perception of their real-world counterparts. With the advent of sound, the animated animal is endowed with orality, and the tendency of spoken language to demonstrate social and regional variation subjugates the representation of animality to a human social discourse; however, the recent trend of celebrity voice-acting also affords a certain degree of political representation to animated animals in which publicly-sanctioned personalities provide animated animals with a vocal endorsement, raising their profile and affording them an opportunity to engage in a political discourse. The narrative function of the animated animal is also considered in several recent films, followed by a detailed textual analysis of the 2006 film Happy Feet, which traces the changing role of the animal figure from mythical symbol to environmental activist. Finally, I explore the circulation of the animated animal in American culture in order to reveal a concurrent but paradoxical meta-message that encourages viewers to adopt inaccurate perceptions of the current state of the natural environment while participating in acts of overconsumption that support modern capitalist economic growth and accelerate environmental devastation.

    For full-text documents see ProQuest's Dissertations & Theses Database

  3. Nature films and the challenge of just sustainability

    by Monani, Salma Basanti.Ph.D., University of Minnesota, 2008. 3343543.

    Abstract (Summary)
    Relatively little attention has been devoted to understanding the role visuals play in shaping environmental imaginations and actions. This study seeks to help fill this gap by examining how one prominent mode of visual culture, the documentary film, represents nature-human relationships and how these representations might contribute to the quest for just and sustainable living. To do this, I employ terms and concepts from the interdisciplinary domain of ecocriticism and draw on the framework of just sustainability developed by Julian Agyeman, Bob Evans, and Robert Bullard.

    In Part I of this study, I examine the films March of the Penguins, Grizzly Man, An Inconvenient Truth and Homeland: Four Portraits of Native Action . In doing so, I suggest that a theoretical schema of wildlife-nature films, adventure-nature films, and social-nature films can help clarify how documentary films represent human-nature relationships. I also show how some types of nature films may better engage the idea of just sustainability by explicitly representing the knotty intersections of nature and culture(s).

    In Part II, I explore how documentary films address a specific environmental issue: the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge debate. Though often cast as a struggle over wilderness, this debate also concerns the fate of Alaskan Natives. By analyzing these films and placing them in their historical and contemporary context, I argue that some kinds of documentaries can better illustrate how long-term environmental goals must concern both ecological sustainability and environmental justice.

    For full-text documents see ProQuest's Dissertations & Theses Database

  4. Policy and practice in Antarctica

    by O'Reilly, Jessica L. Ph.D., University of California, Santa Cruz, 2008. 3317402.

    Abstract (Summary)
    This dissertation analyzes how Antarctic scientists and policy makers influence environmental management for the continent. In Antarctic society, scientific expertise and authority, as well as conceptions of the Antarctic place, must be constantly shaped through policy and practice.

    I conducted sixteen months of ethnographic fieldwork and interviews in Christchurch, New Zealand, a central site of Antarctic culture, at political and scientific meetings and workshops in New Zealand, Australia, Scotland, and India, and on a research expedition near Scott Base, Antarctica. I examined the lived intricacies of this international environmental space and people's relationship to Antarctic environmental management by mapping, examining, and traveling within the networks that scientists and other Antarctic community members form. Competing claims of nationalism, scientific disciplines, field experiences, and personal relationships in Antarctic environmental management disrupt the idea of a utopian epistemic community, so I focused on what emerges in Antarctica among the complicated and hybrid forms of science, sociality, politics, and national membership found there.

    This dissertation contains case studies that depict how knowledge based communities form and have effects in Antarctica. These case studies include: (1) a camping rule that rocks moved by people must be returned to their original location, (2) biosecurity regulations for Antarctic species and non-native species to Antarctica, (3) international negotiations over a special managed area, and (4) the contributions of Antarctic scientists, policy, and data to climate change mitigation. These formations and effects take work, not the least of which involves at least tentative agreements of the core ideas of expertise and communities. Antarctic people translate science through the policy system to make environmental management decisions through playful and serious arrangements of policy and practice, humans, and nonhuman entities. In particular, policy and practice in these Antarctic expert communities coalesce in the making of procedures, documents, and audiences. In the Antarctic-referring lives and work of human and nonhuman expert community members, this continent of peace, science, and other exceptionalisms is crafted as a technocratic wilderness.

    For full-text documents see ProQuest's Dissertations & Theses Database