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

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead 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.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid