Saturday, February 14, 2009

Penguins starve as climate ups swim time

Penguins nesting off Argentina's coast are starving because changing ocean patterns have forced their mates to swim 25 miles (40 kilometers) farther than they did a decade ago to find food, researchers said Thursday."They also have to swim another 25 miles (40 kilometers) back, and they are swimming that extra 50 miles (80 kilometers) while their mates are back at the breeding grounds, sitting on a nest and starving," said Dee Boersma, a University of Washington biology professor.Overfishing, pollution and climate change have contributed to the loss of fish stocks near the Punta Tombo animal preserve about 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) south of Buenos Aires, Boersma said.The colony has shrunk by more than 20 percent to 200,000 breeding pairs from 300,000 pairs 22 years ago.Penguins are returning to their breeding grounds later in the year and in poorer condition to breed. Once there, the longer trips for food significantly lessens the chances that they will successfully reproduce.Some of the penguins living have migrated up to 250 miles (400 kilometers) further north to find better breeding grounds.Those that remain have also had problems with rain flooding their nests, which threatens the survival of eggs and small chicks.Boersma, who is also director of the Wildlife Conservation Society's Penguin Project, will present her findings Friday at the American Association for the Advancement of Science's annual conference.

No comments: