Sunday, 8 September 2013

Penguins Three

File:Emperor penguins (1).jpg

Emperor Penguins
Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons
Mass mourning: Scores of Emperor penguins in an act of communal grief after the deaths of their chicks in Antarctica

Image copyright Daniel J Cox
I decided to research penguins and death and came across this extraordinary image, captured by cameraman Daniel J Cox. It shows a colony of Emperor penguins bowed down in grief after their chicks died.
Distressing: The bodies of the chicks lie on the Riiser Larsen Ice Shelf in Antarctica
Image copyright Daniel J Cox
The chicks' bodies lie strewn across the Antarctic ice
Penguins have relatively few predators and can, unusually for wild animals, die of old age. They can live for many years, up to 15 years for Adelie penguins, and remarkably, 40 years for Emperors.  Dead penguins are consumed by scavengers like skuas and petrels. Those few that die on land not covered by ice do not decay but dry out. Eventually thy are ablated by strong winds and become dust. Occasionally penguin fossils are found.

The oldest penguin fossils, from 10 million to 12 million years ago, have been discovered in South Africa. Of the 17 species of penguins found today 13 are threatened or endangered, with some, like the Galapagos penguins, on the edge of extinction. You can read more about penguins here and here.

8 comments:

  1. Loved your response to my honey on my blog. Thank you!

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  2. They are curious creatures indeed.

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  3. Thanks for visiting me! and so I came here to be shocked and moved into silence. Wow.

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  4. Vey interesting about Emperor Penquins! I had no idea they could live 40 years.

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  5. I had no idea they lived that long either!! What an interesting post for the day!! Thanks for sharing!!

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  6. Very interesting-and so sad. Poor things.

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  7. That's so sad to lose all the chicks at once. Did they find out why? I love the image of the parents bowing in grief.

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  8. Oh, it does break my heart to see all those penguins grieving. Really impressive pics!

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