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Penguins - a habitat under threat

Climate Change

Meet our penguin family

The penguins at SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton’s Auckland live in an environment that replicates the Sub-Antarctic islands. Enclosures such as these may be the only place to see penguins in the future, as their own home is threatened by Climate Change.

Antarctica, the frozen continent, is home to many fascinating animals, like penguins. King penguins meet on the Sub-Antarctic beaches, and find their partner, after being impressed by a smooth strut and impressive singing voice. The parents then wait for almost two months for their egg to hatch into a brown fluffy chick.

Climate Change is a threatening the penguins habitat

BOTH ANTARCTICA AND THE ARCTIC ARE MELTING AT AN ALARMING RATE

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The Impact of Change

Climate Change and its impact

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A Threatened Habitat

Penguin’s habitat is currently threatened due to Climate Change. All the dark smog you see coming out of cars, trucks, buses and factories is air pollution. The pollution acts like a blanket around the world, making it hotter. It’s not just the air that’s heating up; the oceans are also warming. Fish the penguins typically eat are moving further from the penguin’s breeding grounds and into cooler water.

Travelling the Distance

Because the ice is melting, parents are having to travel longer distances just to catch enough fish for themselves and their chick. By the time they return to their chick, they have already used all the energy from their meal, meaning there is little left for their young. More penguins are struggling to survive each year due to these changing conditions. 

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Life in the Antarctic

Disappearing Act

All the animals in the Polar Regions are at risk of extinction if they cannot adapt (change) to the new conditions or find a new place to call home. Huge chunks of ice are melting off from the main ice sheets, and falling into the sea. Some penguins who live on the Antarctic pennisula, have already fallen victim to the ice shelf collapsing beneath their own feet. 

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It's tough being a penguin chick

Penguin chicks are born without the same waterproof feathers as their parents

This means while they are young, they need to have all food brought from the ocean to them. While waiting for parents to hunt, chicks huddle next to each other in a ‘crèche’. The melting ice has caused trouble for many crèche’s around the Antarctic Peninsula, with massive chunks shearing off, taking unprepared chicks with it.

Chicks struggle to keep themselves warm in water

Chicks have different feathers from the adults who are expert swimmers. If they happen to fall into the ocean, they do not always have enough energy to find a way out and often drown. Over half of the population of Adelie penguins from the Peninsula have not returned to the coast to breed in recent years, instead moving to less dangerous sub-Antarctic islands.

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The Food Chain

No Ice, No Algae, No Food

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Kill for Krill

Krill is a shrimp like animal, which feeds on phytoplankton that grows underneath the sea ice. With decreasing sea ice, there is less and less food for the krill to consume each year. This is having a negative flow on effect through the food chain. Not only is there less krill for penguins, they have to travel further to find their prey. Baleen whales are able to chase the krill into warm waters. Unfortunately penguins are unable to do the same, making them at risk of starving.

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Question 1 of

What don't Penguins Eat?

What don't Penguins Eat?

Both King and Gentoo Penguins are piscivores (they eat seafood)

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Seaweed
Fish
Krill
Squid
Question 1 of

Why don't penguin chicks swim?

Why don't penguin chicks swim?

Chick's have special feathers to keep them warm on land while they are still accumilating blubber

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They sink in water
They sink in water
They don't like the cold
They don't like the cold
They are afraid of the ocean
They are afraid of the ocean
They don't have waterproof feathers
They don't have waterproof feathers
Question 1 of

Why is the Antarctic ice melting?

Why is the Antarctic ice melting?

Climate change is causing both the Antarctic and Arctic ice caps to melt

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The Sun is too hot
The Sun is too hot
There are too many penguins
There are too many penguins
Climate Change
Climate Change
It's not melting
It's not melting
FANTASTIC EFFORT

We hope you learned something interesting about Penguins

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Want to help?

Here's some things you can do

Reduce, reuse, recycle

By following the three R’s, we can reduce the amount of energy required to make brand new products. When finished using something, always consider the three R’s before throwing it in the rubbish bin!

Switch off and unplug

Save energy by always switching off lights, appliances and games when they are not in use. Not allowed to play video games throughout the school week? Unplug your gaming console to prevent residual energy from being used as well!

Walk or cycle to school

If you don’t live too far from school, try walking or cycling with some friends. This will reduce the amount of pollution caused by cars and buses, and keep our Earth nice and cool.

Dig a Little Deeper:

Energy used to power homes, lights and games, is usually made from burning fossil fuels, like coal. When coal is burnt, it releases harmful gases into the atmosphere. This is air pollution. As air pollution is directly linked to climate change, and melting polar ice, it is important to always reduce where possible. Switching to renewable energies, like solar and wind powered turbines, help reduce the air pollution, and in turn, help reduce the effect of climate change.