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Whales granted a reprieve, but penguins not so fortunate

The Tourist Trail tells the story Magellanic penguin researchers and anti-whaling activists. And though the book is fiction, the stories themselves reflect all-to-real events happening right now around the world. I read this morning that Japan had suspended whaling activities due to harassment from the Sea Shepherd Society. This is amazing news, though Japan could…

Penguin species: Can you name them all?

There are two species of penguin featured in The Tourist Trail: Magellanic and Adelie, shown above. But there are 17 species of penguin in all, listed below: Adélie penguin African penguin Blue (Little) penguin Chinstrap penguin Emperor penguin Erect-crested penguin Fiordland penguin Galápagos penguin Gentoo penguin Humboldt penguin King penguin Magellanic penguin Northern Rockhopper penguin…

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Sometimes the only evidence of an oil spill are its victims

More than 200 oil-soaked Magellanic penguins washed ashore in Southern Argentina two weeks ago. No oil spill was reported. But the penguins are proof enough. At least 11 penguins have died. But we’re talking about hundreds of miles of coastline, much of it uninhabited. It’s impossible to know exactly how many penguins were affected. All naturalists…

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Farmed fish may be safe for humans but not for the oceans

So it looks like the FDA is going to give the green light to genetically altered salmon. The “AquAdvantage” Atlantic salmon contains a growth hormone from the Chinook salmon, which causes it to grow twice as quickly as regular Atlantic salmon. Even if I did eat fish, I can’t imagine eating something that has been…

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The penguins of Punta Tombo, 28 years later

Punta Tombo, which is located on the Patagonian coast of Argentina, is home to the world’s largest Magellanic penguin colony. Dee Boersma and her team of naturalists have been studying these penguins for 28 years. Back when she began, the Japanese were planning to harvest the penguins for their fur for women’s gloves. Fortunately Dee…

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500 dead penguins wash ashore in Brazil

According to this article, about 10 dead penguins, on average, show up on Brazil’s beaches each year. This year, 500 dead penguins (and counting) have washed ashored. They are mostly Magellanic penguins, the penguins I wrote about in my novel (and pictured below). The birds head north from Argentina in search of food. Overfishing is…

Save the krill

What’s a krill you ask? It looks kinda like a shrimp: The penguins of the Southern Ocean depend on krill for their survival. But warming temps and overfishing are depleting the krill stocks, which appears to be the greatest threat to these penguins. Says this Reuters article: Krill need winter ice to survive but because…

African penguins on the brink

African penguins have been “promoted” from vulnerable to endangered species. According to this article, “The colonies around our coast have shrunk to dangerously small numbers,” said Ross Wanless, Seabird Division Manager for BirdLife South Africa. “Now the colonies are very vulnerable to small-scale events, such as bad weather, seal predation or seagulls taking eggs. In…