Penguin genes show how they adapted to the cold. Now they’re vulnerable to climate change – ABC News
This is a great article that gives a broad oversight to some of the challenges penguins face due to their lack of ability to evolve and adapt quickly. It also touches a little on the history and herstory of penguin adaptation, including their sense of taste. Now if you ask me, in my observations of captive penguins, penguins are picky eaters. They do prefer certain types of fish, and even the way the fish looks or is facing makes a difference to some penguins. I wonder if they can tell which fish have vitamins in them.
Although the penguins (genus) have been around for around 60 million years, their ability to adapt to the recent rapid changes of their environment pose a lot of concern.
Personally, I’m glad that a lot of attention has been brought to the surface when it comes to the penguins. But it’s bitter sweet that the plight of penguins motivated many people to act in efforts to include penguins into captive survival plans. I’m often torn by my feelings on the subject of captive birds.
Recently in Hawaii, decisions were made that the Akikiki in Kauai needed to be taken into captivity. Last year alone, 8 of Hawaii’s birds were declared extinct by U.S. Fish and Wildlife. It was Hawaii’s bird’s that actually tuned my channel to wildlife conservation. I had no real tangible idea of how helpless wildlife is to human action, inaction, and interaction. When I learned that some of the birds we saw in Hawaii were no longer available for public view, I realized that the pictures my now wife took were suddenly rare. She wanted to retake pictures of certain birds, but we couldn’t go back to retake them, even though she’s a bird biologist herself. In many ways, this was devastating. We tried to find products that featured these birds. We learned that many Hawaiian’s don’t even know their native birds. They’ve never seen them, heard them, or learned of them. And from here on out, they never will…. Trying to find pictures of some of the birds, I realized some of my wife’s images were very rare indeed. It’s unbelievable that some of her images might be the last of the birds taken in their natural environment. Especially at the angles and showing particular features. Scarlett is overly modest about her photography. She thinks her work is not worthy of being shared. My objective comes from my understanding that our images may not be perfect but because they might be the only ones, we’re obligated to share them. We are lucky to always get special access to birds that most people wouldn’t. Scarlett is acknowledged in published works regarding birds. Her photography is often used in government documents and reports too. She will down play all of that too. I’m proud of her despite her feelings about her work. She is a bird ecologist and biologist but her accomplishments were obtained with her having earned just a bachelor’s degree. This is incredibly rare these days. But her passion and desire coupled with her need to see and photograph as many birds as possible in areas where endangered or threatened endemic birds are, she makes these incredibly rare experiences happen. I come along for the ride but even I now borrow a camera to take pictures too. It’s that important.
It’s concerning that recently many Little Blue Penguins aka Korora (formerly and still known as Fairy Penguins but many no longer use this label as it could be seen as offensive and also is not an accurate description of the species. So we also choose not to use this name.) but which is a species of penguins that are of least concern have been washing ashore dead in New Zealand. The reasons are not exactly known but experts suspect climate change and over fishing might have something to do with it. Little Blue Penguins are now here in San Diego at the Birch Aquarium in La Jolla and although they are of least concern now, I cannot help but wonder if that survival status could change and if so, how quickly. Of course I love seeing the penguins. I get to be physically close, observe them personally, and it’s fairly easy for me to visit them. But it concerns me that so many species of birds, penguins and not, are requiring human intervention and even permanent captivity in order to save them. That means that if we want to see these birds, the only choice we have is to keep them captive.
The reason for why we started Surrounded By Penguins, aside from the obvious fact that we love penguins, is because I specifically was clueless to the fragility of birds. I did not know of their plight and took them for granted. I know I’m not alone in my innocent ignorance. Many of the birds we’ve seen in our travels are no longer available for general or even captive viewing. I feel obligated to share what I’m lucky to learn and experience in hopes that we can empower people to help wildlife and their natural environment in any way they can. I want people to understand that any small amount of help makes a difference. I also want to share what images we have of the birds because some of the images we have are actually quite rare with very few or no images of the birds in their natural environment. This is also why currently we do not have pictures of the birds up, they need to be officially copyrighted. Unfortunately we didn’t include metadata on the pictures when they were taken, so if you all know of anyone that can help us do that in bulk, please send them our way!