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Antarctic Postcard from the Field: Location, Location, Location - Windows to the Universe

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   Image courtesy of Jean Pennycook

From: Jean Pennycook
Cape Royds, Antarctica, December 29, 2007

Location, Location, Location.

In November when the weather was cold this area seemed like a good place to build a nest, plenty of rocks and lots of close neighbors to help fend off the skuas. However as Spring turned into Summer and the weather warmed far more than ‘normal’, the snow fields and glacier on the mountains nearby began to rapidly melt. Many of the nests in this location were washed away. 1) The upper left picture shows a pair that made several trips to the bank, bringing rocks in an effort to raise the nest above the rising water. 2) The penguin in the lower left picture is immersed in cold water; this penguin’s egg has no chance of survival. How long she will stay we do not know since we will not be visiting this colony again this year. 3) The nest in the upper right picture is isolated and is the only one surviving in its group. Hopefully it is high enough to survive the water. 4) The bird in the lower right picture continues to sit on the nest in spite of no chance for a chick or an egg to survive the cold water. A sad story to see, but a tribute to the devotion these birds have to their offspring even in the face of disaster. To learn more about how penguins are coping with global climate change go to Penguin Science.

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Postcards from the Field: Adelie Penguins 2007

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