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Thread: The baby Antarctic penguins being frozen to death by freak rain storms

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    Elite Member Honey's Avatar
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    Default The baby Antarctic penguins being frozen to death by freak rain storms

    Tens of thousands of newly-born penguins are freezing to death as Antarctica is lashed by freak rain storms.
    Scientists believe the numbers of Adelie penguins may have fallen by as much as 80 per cent – and, if the downpours continue, the species will be extinct within ten years.
    And the Emperor penguin – made famous in the Oscar-winning documentary March Of The Penguins – is also under threat.

    Enlarge
    Rain has soaked this Adelie penguin chick before its feathers are capable of repelling water

    Temperatures on the Antarctic peninsula have risen by 3C over the past 50 years to an average of -14.7C and rain is now far more common than snow.
    Adelie penguins are born with a thin covering of down and it takes 40 days for them to grow protective water-repellent feathers. With epic rains drenching their ancestral nesting grounds, their parents try to protect them. But when the adults leave to fish for food, or are killed by predators such as seals, the babies become soaked to the skin and die from hypothermia.
    ‘Everyone talks about the melting of the glaciers but having day after day of rain in Antarctica is a totally new phenomenon. As a result, penguins are literally freezing to death,’ said Jon Bowermaster, a New York-based explorer who has recently returned from Antarctica.



    Miserable start to life: Cold, wet and dying antarctic penguins try to eke out an existence


    ‘In the past five years, torrential rains have become increasingly common there. We saw Adelie penguin chicks shivering during nearly six days of continuous storms.
    ‘If it had been snow, like in the old days, their down would be perfectly equipped to cope. But they can’t take rain. It’s like wearing a down jacket that gets soaking wet.
    ‘At night, the temperature would dip and the next morning we’d find them dead from hypothermia.
    ‘Other marine creatures like seals in the Antarctic are born with fur, but penguin chicks have nothing to protect them.
    ‘It is all very well talking theoretically about how the ice cap could disappear – but watching penguins walking among the skeletons of their young is the most powerful evidence of climate change I have seen.’

    Enlarge
    Explorer Jon Bowermaster: 'Watching penguins walking among the skeletons of their young is the most powerful evidence of climate change I have seen'

    Biologist Professor P. Dee Boersma, of the University of Washington in Seattle, has published a study in the magazine BioScience in which she says that the warming climate is also threatening the Emperor penguin.
    She visited East Antarctica in December 2006 – less than two years after March Of The Penguins was shot – and says it would be unrecognisable to anyone who saw the film.
    ‘I saw no Emperor penguin chicks, no sea-ice and fewer than a dozen small icebergs.
    I was just shocked,’ she said.
    ‘It was the first time our expedition leader had seen the area free of ice since he started going there in the Eighties.
    ‘There was no way chicks could have survived. In late September, when they would have been little more than half grown, we were told a large storm had hit the area. Emperor chicks are similar to the Adelie – they are downy and not waterproof and could not survive in the cold sea for any period of time.
    ‘These penguins are sentinels who are showing we really are looking at big changes in the world’s climate.’
    Athena Dinar, a spokeswoman for the British Antarctic Survey, said that 50 years ago two days of snow were recorded for every one day of rain at the region’s Faraday meteorological station. ‘Now, in the past few years, the trend is two days of rain to every one day of snow.’

    The baby Antarctic penguins being frozen to death by freak rain storms | Mail Online

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    Elite Member KrisNine's Avatar
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    How sad

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    Elite Member Ravenna's Avatar
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    Scientists believe the numbers of Adelie penguins may have fallen by as much as 80 per cent
    That is really alarming!

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    Dead penguins wash ashore on Brazil's beaches

    Most of the more than 400 mammals (mammals???? WTF?) found in past two months were babes

    Penguins that wash up alive on the beaches of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil — like those shown here — are taken to Niteroi Zoo in the city and eventually airlifted back to Antarctica or Patagonia. But many more penguins have been found dead than alive.


    updated 12:36 p.m. ET, Sat., July. 19, 2008

    RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil - Hundreds of penguins swept from the icy shores of Antarctica and Patagonia are washing up dead on Rio de Janeiro's tropical beaches.

    More than 400 penguins, most of them young, have been found dead on the beaches of Rio de Janeiro state over the past two months, according to Eduardo Pimenta, superintendent for the state coastal protection and environment agency in the resort city of Cabo Frio.

    While it is common here to find some penguins — both dead and alive — swept by strong ocean currents from the Strait of Magellan, Pimenta said there have been more this year than at any time in recent memory.

    Rescuers and those who treat penguins are divided over the possible causes.

    Thiago Muniz, a veterinarian at the Niteroi Zoo, said he believed overfishing has forced the penguins to swim further from shore to find fish to eat "and that leaves them more vulnerable to getting caught up in the strong ocean currents."

    Niteroi, the state's biggest zoo, already has already received about 100 penguins for treatment this year and many are drenched in petroleum, Muniz said. The Campos oil field that supplies most of Brazil's oil lies offshore.

    A penguin that was rescued by the Brazilian Coast Guard receives treatment at the Niteroi Zoo in Rio de Janeiro on Friday.

    Muniz said he hadn't seen penguins suffering from the effects of other pollutants, but he pointed out that already dead penguins aren't brought in for treatment.

    Pimenta suggested pollution is to blame.

    "Aside from the oil in the Campos basin, the pollution is lowering the animals' immunity, leaving them vulnerable to funguses and bacteria that attack their lungs," Pimenta said, quoting biologists who work with him.

    But biologist Erli Costa of Rio de Janeiro's Federal University suggested global warming could be involved.

    "I don't think the levels of pollution are high enough to affect the birds so quickly. I think instead we're seeing more young and sick penguins because of global warming, which affects ocean currents and creates more cyclones, making the seas rougher," Costa said.

    Costa said the vast majority of penguins turning up are baby birds that have just left the nest and are unable to out-swim the strong ocean currents they encounter while searching for food.

    Every year, Brazil airlifts dozens of penguins back to Antarctica or Patagonia.
    Dead baby penguins found in Brazil - World environment - MSNBC.com

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