For those who might not have heard the news, juvenile Magellanic penguins in South America have been washing up dead on the beaches of Brazil. In the last ten days, about 500 penguins have been found. This incident eerily echos a similar incident that occurred exactly two years ago. At that time, close to 1,000 juvenile Magellanic penguins washed up in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. While about half of those penguins were still alive, most were starving and many were coated with oil. Those penguins were rehabilitated and released back into the wild.
While the cause of this most recent event has not been determined, upon initial investigation, the stomachs of the penguins that have been necropsied have been completely empty, indicating that these birds starved to death. Two of the main causes of this are overfishing of the penguins’ food sources (anchovies, squid and other fish) and climate change. Global warming affects the movement of the currents that carry their prey items – oftentimes these currents move deeper and further away from land, making it much harder for the penguins to find the food they need to sustain themselves (and their growing chicks).
I was contacted by BBC Radio Live a few days ago about this recent event in Brazil. They asked if they could interview me on their program Up All Night with host Rhod Sharp. The following link brings you to the broadcast of that show. The podcast will only be available for another five days online. Move the cursor to 1:18.05, which is where my interview starts. The interview runs to 1:24.37. http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/console/b00t4lnk
And to read a news article about this event, click here. The video on this page features well-known biologist and penguin expert Dee Boersma, who has been studying Magellanic penguins in Punta Tombo for more than twenty-five years. Watch the video to learn more about this Near Threatened species, and some of the issues they are facing.