aldelie penguins spend their (austral) winters in the seas surrounding the antarctic pack ice - about 4,000km from their southern spring breeding grounds - where they fatten on krill. the krill feed on phytoplankton beneath the icebergs, but warming waters due to climate change has reduced their numbers by up to 80 percent as the plankton, which are now unable to access cold water nutrients, are dying off.
adelies are the most southern living penguin, but head north as the summer ends to escape the protracted darkness of the winter. a warming climate, however, has meant a reduced northern icepack, and has seen the encroachment of other penguins onto their southern summer territory who previously found it too cold. the adelie population northeast of the ross sea, for example, has declined by 90 percent.
as one adelie expert put it, these penguins face possible extinction not merely by a loss of habitat, but by an unshakable fear of darkness; adelies need light, if only twilight, to forage and navigate, and as comfort against predators. but as they are pushed further south they may ultimately find themselves trapped behind a curtain of polar night for which they have no hardwired strategy.
Start your week off right with video of some pretty adorable penguins swimming. Click here for the video.
You can see the little blue penguins at the New England Aquarium right now! The others are at our temporary off-site holding facility during construction, so consider this your African and rockhopper penguin fix.
What a webcast: We had an awesome Google+ Hangout on Air today with researchers in Antarctica today! Take a look, in case you missed it. They showed us around a bit, talked about changes in the local penguin populations over the last years and gave a great inside look into climate change research.
African penguins at the New England Aquarium.
New England Aquarium
Photo: Rachel L. Blumenthal @blumie
Amazing. We can’t wait to see your pictures in the fall. Thanks for tagging us, waltzforagirl!
This is what happens when you give me a day and an aquarium. I’m planning on going back in the fall with a much nicer (and borrowed) camera and getting even better things, but for now all I have the the photos.
If you have Aquarium pictures to share, be sure to tag us at #new england aquarium!
Update: Hi everyone! If you saw this from the radar, please follow us for more images from the New England Aquarium and wild habitats around the world. You can learn more about each of these species on the Aquarium’s blogs.
Top left: giant green sea anemones
Top right: Sea urchins
Center, bottom left: Sea stars
Bottom center: Sea jellies
Bottom right: Juvenile African penguin
Jo Blasi and Paul Leonard, both New England Aquarium staffers, spent weeks volunteering their time to study and rehabilitate African penguins in South Africa. Hear them talk about their experience, see more pictures like this and learn a little bit about this endangered species at a free lecture tomorrow.