A rare Adélie penguin swam to New Zealand, overcoming three thousand kilometers from its habitat – Antarctica. He was found on one of the beaches.
These waterfowl nest exclusively off the coast of Antarctica, so it is almost impossible to see them anywhere else. Colonies of Adélie penguins were discovered in 1840. Scientists are concerned: the occurrence of representatives of a rare species in New Zealand is an alarming sign. It means a change in the habitat of these birds, which is due to the climate crisis.
In February 2021, the highest air temperature in history was recorded at the northern tip of Antarctica – 20.75° C. The area of Antarctic glaciers is rapidly shrinking.
The found penguin was treated by a highly experienced specialist, biologist Thomas Stracke, together with a team of veterinarians. He said that the animal was exhausted and dehydrated. As soon as it recovers, it will be released by the water. But scientists do not know whether the penguin will want to make the return trip to Antarctica, BBC News reports.
Harry Singh and his wife were the first to notice the animal while walking on the beach in Beardlings Flat, but at first thought, it was a large soft toy forgotten on the shore.
“He didn’t move for an hour and looked exhausted and confused,” Singh said.
According to him, while he was waiting for the arrival of a special group of rescuers, he was most worried that the penguin would not go back into the water because in his condition, he would become easy prey for marine predators or dogs.
Thomas Streck, a penguin rehabilitation specialist, was shocked that this is the Adele penguin, which lives exclusively on the Antarctic Peninsula.
It is noted that this is only the third registered case when a representative of the species Adele was found in New Zealand. The first two took place in 1962 and 1993.
The penguin has been receiving food through a special tube for several days now.
When he fully recovers, he will be released near the water, but scientists do not know whether he wants to make the return trip to Antarctica.
According to experts, the appearance of Adelie penguins in New Zealand remains rare, but it may be a worrying sign if they increase in the future.
The Adélie penguin, who has now been affectionately named Pingu by locals, was found looking lost on the coast.
Harry Singh, the local resident who found him, said he thought he was a “soft toy” at first.
It is only the third recorded incident of an Adélie penguin being found on New Zealand’s coast.
Mr. Singh and his wife first came across the penguin when they were out walking after a long day of work on the beach at Birdlings Flat, a settlement south of the city of Christchurch.
“First I thought it (was) a soft toy, suddenly the penguin moved his head, so I realized it was real,” Mr. Singh told the BBC.
Footage of the penguin posted on Mr. Singh’s Facebook page showed the penguin appearing lost and alone.
“It did not move for one hour… and [looked] exhausted,” Mr. Singh said.
Mr. Singh proceeded to call penguin rescuers as he was concerned that the penguin was not getting into the water, thereby making it a potential target for other predatory animals roaming the beach.
“We did not want it to end up in a dog’s or cat’s stomach,” he said.
He eventually got through to Thomas Stracke, who has been rehabilitating penguins on New Zealand’s South Island for about ten years.
Mr. Stracke was shocked to find that the penguin was an Adélie penguin – a species that lives exclusively on the Antarctic peninsula. Mr. Stracke, along with a veterinarian, rescued the penguin that same evening.
Blood tests performed on Pingu showed that it was slightly underweight and dehydrated. It has since been given fluids and fed via a feeding tube.
The bird will eventually be released onto a safe beach on the Banks Peninsula, which is free of dogs.
The discovery is only the third in history that an Adélie penguin has been found on New Zealand’s coasts, following two incidents in 1993 and 1962.
Adélie spottings remain rare in New Zealand, but if more of them appear in the future, it could be a worrying sign, say experts.
“I think if we started getting annual arrivals of Adélie penguins, we’d go actually, something’s changed in the ocean that we need to understand,” Otago University zoology professor Philip Seddon told news site The Guardian.
“More studies will give us more understanding where penguins go, what they do, what the population trends are like – they’re going to tell us something about the health of that marine ecosystem in general.”
Earlier media reported that scientists found seahorses, seals, and sharks at the Thames estuary. Biologists have studied the ecological state of the main river of the British capital for the first time in 70 years. At the same time, the analysis showed an increased level of nitrates due to industrial and wastewater. The Thames water temperature rises as global warming increases.
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