News / Science & Technology

Penguin Sanctuary Plan Would Double World's Protected Oceans

Penguins a Barometer for Ocean Healthi
X
June 06, 2014 8:34 PM
The world’s oceans are under assault. The increasing concentration of global carbon emissions is making waters warmer and more acidic, which is harming coral reefs, home to about one-third of everything that lives in the sea. One barometer of ocean health is the penguin, whose Southern Hemisphere range extends from the tropical Galapagos Islands near the equator to the ice shelf of Antarctica. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports on their struggle for survival in the face of numerous threats.
Rosanne Skirble
About 75 percent of all penguins are threatened and a campaign to double the area of protected reserves is being considered by an international commission.

Penguins are aquatic birds. They do not fly. Instead, they soar through the ocean. Penguins are especially adapted to life in the water, and are affected by everything in it.

They suffer from pollution and overfishing, which limits their food source. They are in danger from shipping traffic and oil spills.
 
Penguin Sanctuary Plan Would Double World's Protected Oceans
Penguin Sanctuary Plan Would Double World's Protected Oceans i
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X

Sharp decline

Vanessa Strauss, who heads a high-tech tracking and monitoring program at the South African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds in Cape Town, South Africa, says accidents there have accelerated the birds' sharp decline.

“We know that some animals oiled at sea never make it to land," Strauss said. "So, it’s really difficult to quantify the impact of chronic oil pollution over the long term. We cannot only look at the number of birds affected by oil to quantify the impact, but we do know from research that many birds do die out at sea.”    
 
  • Chinstrap penguin prancing on Prasiola crispa, a terrestrial green algae. (Ron Naveen/ OCEANITES)
  • Adélie penguin wing spread. (Ron Naveen/ OCEANITES)
  • Nesting Adélie penguins, Admiralty Bay. (Ron Naveen/ OCEANITES)
  • Penguin swimming, Antarctica. (John B. Weller)
  • Gentoo penguin headshot. (Ron Naveen/ OCEANITES)
  • Close up of fish below the Ross Sea. (John B. Weller, Courtesy of The Pew Charitable Trusts)
  • Close-up of krill. (Photo credit: grandfathered)
  • Below the Ross Sea. (John B. Weller)
  • Avalanche in the Lemaire Channel. (Ron Naveen/ OCEANITES)
  • Pods of killer whales, sometimes 100 strong, patrol the ice edges. Three separate ecotypes live in the Ross Sea, each specializing in a different diet. (John B. Weller)

Climate change puts all penguin populations at risk, says Andrea Kavanagh, director of Global Penguin Conservation for the PEW Charitable Trusts.  

“Global warming is a problem because it shifts where their normal food supplies are, either farther away from them so they have to swim farther and farther away to get the food," Kavanagh said. "And when penguins are nesting and trying to protect their chicks, that’s especially a big problem for them, because the longer they have to leave their chicks, the more open to starvation and predation their chicks are."    

Marine reserves

Two-thirds of the global penguin population is endangered, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

Eight of 18 species worldwide live in Antarctica. The continent, one of the last wild frontiers, is home to 10,000 species, including seabirds, seals and whales.

Kavanagh says PEW and partner groups are backing a plan to create two large marine reserves, which would set aside nearly 3 million square kilometers (1.16 million miles)  in the Ross Sea and East Antarctica, more than a third of which would be a strict no-fishing area.

Marine reserves would help penguins by moving fisheries away from where the penguins forage for food, Kavanagh said. "And so it would give them a little bit more security when it comes to their food source in the face of a changing climate. The other thing that it would do is that it would take a big fishery that is happening, the krill fishery, and move that farther away from their foraging grounds.”  

Negotiating fate of reserves

The tiny, shrimp-like krill are a staple of the penguin diet. But they are being harvested for fish feed and vitamin supplements.

A commission created under the Antarctic Treaty, which governs the continent, is currently negotiating the fate of the reserves.

The 24-member states and European Union countries must come to a consensus. Kavanagh says every nation is on board except Russia, which has been reluctant to give up fishing in the proposed area.

“The last couple of years, we have been working with our Russian colleagues and with all of the other member governments to try to understand their problems and see if we can work through them so that this year, this October, we can have these marine reserves firmly established,” Kavanagh said.

The meeting will be held in Tasmania, where the commission is based. The reserves would double the area of ocean worldwide that is fully protected.

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid