Agriculture
Fast-flying fungal spores
Hungry bug seeks hot meal
New Gene Fights Potato Blight
Amphibians
Newts
Salamanders
Tree Frogs
Animals
Koalas, Up Close and Personal
Jay Watch
Glimpses of a Legendary Woodpecker
Behavior
Sugar-pill medicine
Pollution at the ends of the Earth
Newly named fish crawls and hops
Birds
A Meal Plan for Birds
Finches
Tropical Birds
Chemistry and Materials
Nanomagnets Corral Oil
Cold, colder and coldest ice
The Buzz about Caffeine
Computers
Hubble trouble doubled
Batteries built by Viruses
A New Look at Saturn's rings
Dinosaurs and Fossils
A Dino King's Ancestor
A Living Fossil
A Really Big (but Extinct) Rodent
E Learning Jamaica
Results of GSAT are in schools this week
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
E Learning in Jamaica WIN PRIZES and try our Fun Animated Games
Earth
Hints of Life in Ancient Lava
What is groundwater
Digging into a Tsunami Disaster
Environment
The Best Defense Is a Good Snow Fence
Shrimpy Invaders
Groundwater and the Water Cycle
Finding the Past
Decoding a Beverage Jar
A Big Discovery about Little People
Watching deep-space fireworks
Fish
Pygmy Sharks
Flounder
Skates
Food and Nutrition
Packing Fat
The Essence of Celery
The Color of Health
GSAT English Rules
Finding Subjects and Verbs
Who vs. Whom
Problems with Prepositions
GSAT Exam Preparation Jamaica
10 Common Mistakes When Preparing for the GSAT Math Test
42,000 students will sit for the GSAT Exam in two weeks
March 21-22, 2013: Over 43,000 students will take the GSAT Exam
GSAT Exams Jamaica Scholarships
GSAT Practice Papers | GSAT Mathematics | Maths
GSAT Scholarship
GSAT Exam Preparation
GSAT Mathematics
It's a Math World for Animals
E Learning in Jamaica WIN PRIZES and try our Fun Animated Games
Deep-space dancers
Human Body
Heart Revival
Dreaming makes perfect
Taking the sting out of scorpion venom
Invertebrates
Clams
Grasshoppers
Tapeworms
Mammals
Antelope
Blue Bear
Skunks
Parents
The Surprising Meaning and Benefits of Nursery Rhymes
Choosing a Preschool: What to Consider
What Not to Say to Emerging Readers
Physics
One ring around them all
Powering Ball Lightning
Spin, Splat, and Scramble
Plants
Assembling the Tree of Life
Nature's Alphabet
Getting the dirt on carbon
Reptiles
Sea Turtles
Box Turtles
Crocodilians
Space and Astronomy
World of Three Suns
Burst Busters
Ready, Set, Supernova
Technology and Engineering
Spinach Power for Solar Cells
Squeezing Oil from Old Wells
Toy Challenge
The Parts of Speech
Pronouns
Adjectives and Adverbs
What is a Verb?
Transportation
Where rivers run uphill
How to Fly Like a Bat
Tinkering With the Basic Bike
Weather
Polar Ice Feels the Heat
Weekend Weather Really Is Different
In Antarctica watch the heat (and your step)
Add your Article

Out in the Cold

There's a scene in the movie March of the Penguins in which a group of mother penguins leaves their chicks alone for the first time. The moms will be gone for days. As they waddle away, some of the fuzzy newborns hop after them, screeching and flapping their little wings. Driven by their need for food, the mothers don't even look back. "For some, this is not acceptable," says narrator Morgan Freeman, describing the chicks' reactions. "But it is nonnegotiable." In another scene, a penguin mother stands over her dead chick and wails at the sky. "The loss is unbearable," Freeman explains. In yet another scene, Freeman describes typical penguin behavior. "They're not that different from us, really," he says. "They pout. They bellow. They strut. And occasionally, they engage in contact sports." Such statements have drawn criticism from some biologists who say it's wrong to attribute human feelings to animals. Penguin researcher Dee Boersma, however, says that this kind of anthropomorphism is a good thing. "I think these movies are a wonderful opportunity to engage children and adults in the wonders of nature instead of the wonders of shoot-'em-ups," Boersma says. She's a conservation biologist at the University of Washington in Seattle. Hard life Inspiring people to care about penguins is important, Boersma says, because life isn't getting any easier for the quirky-looking birds. Penguins live on land, on ice, and in the oceans of the southern hemisphere, but global climate warming is shrinking their habitats. Oil slicks and other types of pollution are making them sick. More and more often, fishermen are catching penguins in their nets by mistake. And over-fishing is making it harder for the animals to find fish to eat. Penguins are especially sensitive to changes in the environment because they travel long distances during their lives, but can't fly. Environmental damage along any part of their routes can have harmful effects. The Emperor penguins featured in March of the Penguins, for instance, walk and slide on their tummies over ice for 70 miles each year to meet at the same breeding grounds. Similarly, Magellanic penguins, which live in South America, sometimes travel more than 2,000 round-trip miles between Argentina and Brazil. Penguins gather in huge groups when they breed, which makes it easy for scientists to see if populations are declining. "We're interested in using penguins as sentinels of the environment," Boersma says. In other words, if penguins show signs of distress, that's a sign that the environment is experiencing stress, too. Cool birds Boersma has been studying Magellanic penguins in the Patagonia region of Argentina for 22 years. Every year, she spends September through March at a protected reserve called Punta Tombo, which borders the Atlantic Ocean. About 200,000 breeding pairs of penguins live there. "It's a megalopolis of penguins," Boersma says. "It's like New York City." Even so, she says, there are 20 percent fewer penguins living at Punta Tombo now than when she started working there in 1987. Boersma has big goals when it comes to penguin research. She wants to learn everything there is to know about penguins. To that end, she and her colleagues tag birds every year and track their migration routes with satellite technology. The researchers also visit nests and count how many penguins return from year to year. They spend hours observing the animals every day, trying to figure out how penguins choose their mates, why they make certain noises, how oil spills affect populations, and how Punta Tombo's 70,000 yearly human visitors affect the behavior of the birds and their ability to reproduce successfully. "What's mostly driving us," Boersma says, "is to make sure penguins are going to be here for future generations." Penguin personalities Studying penguins is as entertaining as it is interesting, Boersma says. "I don't know anyone who won't say they like penguins," she says. "They are fun to watch. They're comical. They walk upright. What's not to like?" Now that she has known some of the penguins at Punta Tombo for more than 2 decades, she has grown to appreciate their personalities. "Some are nervous," she says. "Some are placid." One of her favorites is a 21-year-old male who makes a grunting "hmmph" sound every time the researchers pick him up to weigh and measure him. I never realized how amazing penguins are until I saw March of the Penguins. The birds go to incredible lengths, I learned, to find food for themselves and their babies. In the Antarctic, they withstand brutal snowstorms and frigid temperatures, and they go for months without food, all for the sake of their chicks. The film also gave me an appreciation for how cute baby penguins are. Afterwards, all I wanted to do was to adopt a group of the adorable puffballs and protect them from winds, cold weather, and hungry predators. On second thought, though, that would probably be a bad idea. People may have something in common with penguins, but penguins would probably be too noisy and wild to make good roommates. My cat, by the way, agrees.

Out in the Cold
Out in the Cold








Designed and Powered by HBJamaica.com™