South African Penguins – Intro

South African Penguins – Intro

Music; Ambience: African Jackass Penguins

In the dog days of August, it’s easy to yearn for a touch of cooler weather. Well, right now, it’s winter in South Africa, peak breeding season for local penguins, and even for penguins, it may getting too warm. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

Les Underhill is director of the Avian Demography Unit at the University of Cape Town in South Africa.

“They breed from January – February onwards – many of the first-laid nests are deserted because of really hot weather for short periods. The penguins just can’t cope with that – they’ve got black backs, they’re designed for cold conditions.”

The islands off the coast of South Africa where the penguins live used to be thick with bird dung – guano – which helped insulate the penguins’ burrows. But at the end of the 19th century, much of the guano was scraped off the rocks for commercial use.

“Because penguins no longer are able to breed in burrows because the guano that was on the islands was scraped away, many penguins now nest out in the open. And during the end of our summer when they start to breed, very often penguins desert their eggs after a week or two of incubation just because it is so hot. Then they would come back six weeks later or so when they get further into autumn and it’s cooler. So that could be a direct effect of hotter weather on penguins.”

Visit us on the newspage of National Geographic.

We’ll hear more about the impact of global climate change on penguin populations in future programs. Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.

South African Penguins - Intro

Warmer temperatures are causing problems for penguins in South Africa.
Air Date:08/16/2004
Scientist:
Transcript:

South African Penguins - Intro

Music; Ambience: African Jackass Penguins

In the dog days of August, it's easy to yearn for a touch of cooler weather. Well, right now, it's winter in South Africa, peak breeding season for local penguins, and even for penguins, it may getting too warm. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

Les Underhill is director of the Avian Demography Unit at the University of Cape Town in South Africa.

"They breed from January - February onwards - many of the first-laid nests are deserted because of really hot weather for short periods. The penguins just can't cope with that - they've got black backs, they're designed for cold conditions."

The islands off the coast of South Africa where the penguins live used to be thick with bird dung - guano - which helped insulate the penguins' burrows. But at the end of the 19th century, much of the guano was scraped off the rocks for commercial use.

"Because penguins no longer are able to breed in burrows because the guano that was on the islands was scraped away, many penguins now nest out in the open. And during the end of our summer when they start to breed, very often penguins desert their eggs after a week or two of incubation just because it is so hot. Then they would come back six weeks later or so when they get further into autumn and it's cooler. So that could be a direct effect of hotter weather on penguins."

Visit us on the newspage of National Geographic.

We'll hear more about the impact of global climate change on penguin populations in future programs. Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.