Penguins Aboard! Fun facts about penguins and how to save them!
The Fun Stuff About Penguins
Penguins are cute, who doesn't like penguins? It's quite funny actually: in Mandarin, the word for penguin roughly translates to ''business goose''! It references their black-and-white 'tuxedo' print, which works in their favour for camouflage, similarly to pandas. For these guys, it's called 'countershading' and, underwater, the black on their backs conceals them from predators above, whilst the white on their tummies hides penguins from prey and predators below.
A Long Time Ago
Did you know that the prehistoric penguin, Icadyptes Salasi, grew to 1.5metres? That's around the same height as the average adult human!
Once upon a time, giant penguins roamed the planet... the now-extinct Great-Auk was one of the first birds to be called a penguin, and it was found in the North Atlantic. It grew up to 85 centimetres, relatively tall compared to the maximum height African penguins grow to, 70 centimetres.
A group of penguins in water is called a raft, but on land? It's a waddle!
Look at that waddle of penguins! How adorable! Although, they are also sometimes called a rookery, colony or huddle of penguins. Still, it's cute... Speaking of 'huddle' did you know that when penguins gather together in a huddle they do it for various reasons? From warmth to predator protection, gathering like that is like a survival and protection mechanism.
On the matter of warmth, not only do their feathers keep penguins warm, but a gland near their tail produces waterproof oil. This oil is used to cover their feathers, kind of like grooming, and penguins spend several hours a day covering themselves with it, even more so when they're about to go for a swim!
Evolution for Migration & Swimming
Penguins are flightless birds, but their feet are incredibly well evolved for long-distance walking - convenient for these migratory birds. Some penguin species are capable of marching on sea ice for 60 miles to reach their breeding grounds. Also, their flippers have adapted for swimming, making them excellent in - and under - water! Not to mention, since penguins have solid bones, they have reduced buoyancy, meaning they float less.
Did you know that some animal experts believe penguins to be one of the most streamlined animals on the planet?
The body is tapered at both ends, with a large head, short neck and elongated body. It's perfect for cutting through the water and gliding through, swimming fast.
Whilst the Southern Hemisphere is home to most penguins, the Galapagos Penguin is the only species to venture north of the equator. Meanwhile, large penguin populations can be found from Argentina and Chile to South Africa to New Zealand and Australia!
Why Are Penguins Endangered?
Competition for fish stocks (due to growing human populations and fish demand) mean penguins are lacking in the food department, so they're unable to survive. Fishing nets can also result in accidental penguin captures, leading to suffocation and drowning.
Rainstorms and extreme temperatures damage penguin chicks enough to cause death. Further, because it damaged the ecosystem, climate change can result in a lack of food being brought back by penguin parents, so many young die this way as well. Overall, climate change can mean starvation for penguins.
Plastic nets and waste can easily suffocate and drown penguins. Accidentally eating them would also cause a huge array of health problems for penguins and other marine creatures: swallowing enough plastic means that the aggregated indigestible scraps in their bellies harms their gut. It prevents the digestion of real food due to blockage, for example.
Oil spills also mean that penguin feathers are highly damaged, so they're unable to swim as normal. It means they can drown and end up washing over on seashores.
Here's How We Can Save Them
Bare Kind doneates 10% of all profits on all Save the Penguin Sock sales to the South African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds. SANCCOB rescues and rehabilitates seabirds, rears penguin chicks, educates and trains communities on penguin conservation and researches seabird species.