Sep 29

Thirteen ocean creatures have surfaced all around Bristol’s BS5 postcode, snapped by some of the world’s very best wildlife photographers. To prove how turtle-y awesome they all are, we’ve created blogs on all of the featured species sharing ten epic facts about them! Sail your way around the exhibition by downloading your very own map and guide.

1) Sorry if this ruins many of the Christmas cards that you see from now on, but no penguins live at the North Pole.

2) Penguins swallow pebbles and stones as well as their food. Scientists believe that the stones may help grind up and digest their food.

3) Penguins can drink seawater, despite its heavy salt content.

4) The characteristic black and white plumage of penguins serves as camouflage while swimming. The black plumage on their back is hard to see from above, while the white plumage on their front looks like the sun reflecting off the surface of the water when seen from below, making them masters of disguise.

5) The fastest species is the gentoo penguin, which can reach swimming speeds up to 35km/h! To put that in to perspective, Michael Phelps swims at about 9.6km/h.

6) Little penguins are the smallest penguin subspecies, averaging around 33cm in height.

7) Unlike most birds which lose and replace a few feathers at a time, penguins moult all at once, in what is called a ‘catastrophic moult’, during which time they remain on land.

8) Because many male penguins incubate eggs, pudgy males – with enough fat storage to survive weeks without eating – are most desirable. Bring on the Dad bod!

9) Penguins can dive to depths of over 250m, although the deepest dive ever recorded was by a female emperor penguin who dived to 535m!

10) Climate change is likely to affect the numbers of krill, and thus affect the penguin numbers as well. Since the 1970s, krill density in some areas has decreased by 80%. When the bottom of the food chain is wiped out, it is seriously bad news for everyone else.

Apr 25

Well done to everyone who took part in our #GuessThePenguin quiz for World Penguin Day. You all have great identification skills when it comes to these very handsome creatures!

We can now reveal the answers to the mystery penguins we posted on social media, but we didn’t want to ruin it for those who didn’t see it and still wanted to play the quiz, so we’ve revealed the answers at the bottom of this blog. Can you guess the penguin species just from looking at a photo?

1) CLUE: I live in a very surprising place where you may not know that penguins exist

2) CLUE: this penguin is named after the wife of the explorer who discovered it

3) CLUE: this penguin is named after a distinctive characteristic below its bill

4) CLUE: this is the largest penguin species in the world, reaching heights of over 1m and weighing up to 40kgs

5) CLUE: this amazing penguin can dive to depths of over 170 metres and is the fastest known diving bird, reaching speeds of up to 36 kilometers an hour in the water

6) CLUE: this is the smallest penguin in the world, weighing a maximum of 1kg and only growing up to 40cm tall

7) CLUE: this penguin was discovered during an expedition that took place in 1519

8) CLUE: this penguin is not named after a type of pasta, although it is commonly mistaken for the penguin that sounds like it is!

9) CLUE: look into the eyes of this penguin and you might just guess its name!

…and the answers are:

1) African

2) Adelie

3) Chinstrap

4) Emperor

5) Gentoo

6) Little

7) Magellanic

8) Royal

9) Yellow-eyed

How many did you guess correctly?

Discover more penguin species on Arkive

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Mar 24

Although Adélie, chinstrap and gentoo penguins share their western Antarctic Peninsula breeding grounds, new research has discovered that rising temperatures have been affecting the breeding cycles of the three species in different ways.

Photo of Gentoo penguin colony with chicks

Gentoo penguin colony with chicks. Gentoo penguin populations are thought to have increased on the Antarctic Peninsula

Tracking penguin colonies

Professor Heather Lynch and her colleagues from Stony Brook University used a combination of fieldwork and satellite imagery to track colonies of the three penguin species and monitor how their breeding cycles were affected by the region’s warming temperatures.

Currently, the Antarctic is considered to be one of the world’s most rapidly warming regions and is one of the areas most impacted by global climate change.

Photo of Adelie penguins walking along the beach

Adelie penguins walking along the beach. Adelie populations have declined in the Antarctic, possibly due to warming temperatures in the region

Shifting breeding cycles

According to Lynch’s research, warmer temperatures cause a shift in the breeding cycle, causing the Peninsula’s penguin inhabitants to lay their eggs earlier. The researchers found that the resident gentoo penguin population is able to adapt more quickly to this change, with these birds able to bring their egg laying dates forward by almost twice as much as the Adélie or chinstrap penguins. 

Lynch believes this may allow the gentoo penguin to better compete for the best nesting space. In addition, the gentoo prefers areas with less sea ice, and has been able to migrate further south into the Antarctic as the sea ice shrinks as a result of the warming temperatures.

While gentoo penguins are year-round residents on the Antarctic Peninsula, Adélie and chinstrap penguins migrate to the Peninsula to breed. The researchers believe that the Adélie and chinstrap penguins are not aware of the local conditions in the region until they arrive, and have not been able to advance their breeding cycles as rapidly as the gentoo penguin.

Chinstrap and Adélie penguins also rely more heavily on sea ice due to their dependence on Antarctic krill, a species which lives under the sea ice for parts of its lifecycle, for food.

Photo of Gentoo penguin adult and chick

Gentoo penguin adult and chick

Changing penguin populations

As a result of changing conditions in the region, the number of gentoo penguins has been increasing on the Antarctic Peninsula, while populations of both Adélie and chinstrap penguins have noticeably dwindled in recent years.

Analyses carried out by Lynch and her team have confirmed that populations of the Adélie penguin have decreased at almost all of its breeding locations on the Antarctic Peninsula. The researchers have also helped to resolve previous contradictory studies that suggest that the chinstrap penguin may benefit from decreasing sea ice, and have instead shown that populations of this species are also decreasing in the region.

The work by Lynch and her team has been published as a series of papers online in Polar Biology, Ecology and Marine Ecology Progress Series (MEPS).

Photo of chinstrap penguins on beach

Chinstrap penguins on beach. Chinstrap populations have also suffered as a result of rising Antarctic temperatures

Read the Stony Brook University press release about Lynch’s work.

Find out more about the Adélie, chinstrap and gentoo penguins on ARKive.

For more information on the Antarctic visit ARKive’s Antarctic ecoregion page.

Interested in how climate change is affecting the world’s species? Find out more on ARKive’s climate change pages, or enter our creative climate change challenge!

Helen Roddis, ARKive Species Text Author

Feb 28

A coalition of international environmental organisations is launching a proposal for the world’s largest nature reserve in the seas around the Antarctic.

Photo of small icebergs in Esperanza Bay, Antarctica

The Antarctic Ocean Alliance (AOA) has called for the protection of 3.6 million square kilometres of ocean, which would include a large proportion of the Ross Sea and create a reserve comparable in size to Australia.

The reserve would be protected from fishing and development, and would form part of a network of 19 protected areas in the Southern Ocean around Antarctica, helping to preserve the region’s unique wildlife.

Emperor penguin profile

Emperor penguin

Pristine environment

The oceans around Antarctica are some of the most pristine in the world, and are still relatively untouched by human activities. In particular, the Ross Sea remains the most intact marine ecosystem on the planet.

The waters around Antarctica are home to almost 10,000 species, many of them found nowhere else. The Ross Sea still retains large populations of all its top predators, and supports many of Antarctica’s most charismatic species, including emperor penguins, Antarctic minke whales, Weddell seals and Antarctic petrels.

However, Antarctica’s unique environment faces a range of threats, including overfishing and the effects of climate change.

Photo of a Weddell seal pup close up

Weddell seal pup

Broader approach needed

Both New Zealand and the United States have already proposed reserves for the Ross Sea. However, the AOA claim that a much larger protected area is needed.

The Ross Sea is one of the most amazing and relatively untouched marine environments on Earth,” said Chuck Fox of the AOA. “While there are two proposals on the table to protect some of it, our report shows that we need a much broader and ecosystems-focused approach if we are to ensure this environment remains healthy and stable.”

Photo of a large group of Antarctic krill swimming under ice

Antarctic krill, a vital component of the Antarctic marine food chain

The Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), which was established in 1982 to conserve the marine life of the Antarctic, has agreed to create a network of marine protected areas around Antarctica. However, the AOA say that public awareness and attention are needed during this process to help achieve more than just the minimum level of protection.

Now is the time to protect this amazing environment but we’ll need the global public involved to make that happen,” said AOA Campaign Director Steve Campbell.

Find out more about the proposed marine reserve at the Antarctic Ocean Alliance.

Read more about the Antarctic on ARKive’s Antarctic eco-region pages.

View photos and videos of species from the Antarctic on ARKive.

Liz Shaw, ARKive Species Text Author

Feb 9

Unique biological abilities captured the heart of Rebecca Goatman last week, will this week’s ARKive team member favour evolutionary aptitude over adorableness?

Helen Roddis – ARKive species text author

Favourite species: Emperor penguin

Why? I’ve had an obsession with penguins since I was little – at one point I could count more than 30 items of penguin-related paraphernalia in my room as I was growing up! My admiration for the penguin stems from the sheer amount of grit and determination it demonstrates – this steely bird breeds during the Antarctic’s harsh winter, when temperatures drop as low as -60°C and wind speeds reach up to 200 kilometres per hour. The male penguin is responsible for the incubation of the egg while the female feeds at sea, and so to survive the Antarctic’s extreme conditions, thousands of males will huddle together for protection against the cold. Amazingly, penguins in these huge formations are able to coordinate their movements to give all members of the huddle a chance to warm up!

Favourite image: 

Emperor penguin image

Adult and chick emperor penguins sleeping

The emperor penguin is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List. The large population size and wide range, it is not considered under threat. Global warming poses a future threat due to the reduction of sea ice, an important breeding ground for the emperor penguin. Increasing tourism and the disturbance it causes could also have a negative effect on this highly unique bird species.

See more emperor penguin photos and videos.

Get involved

 

What’s your favourite species? Spread the love for species this Valentine’s Day by tweeting about your favourite awesome animal or peculiar plant using the #LoveSpecies hashtag!

 

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