The Top 5 Threats to Penguins – And What You Can Do to Help

 

hey say to dress for the job you want, not the job you have. If penguins’ black and white getup is anything to go by, these birds would rather be butlers. And who’s to blame them? From invasive predators to toxic plastics, penguins around the world face a litany of serious threats. This Friday is Penguin Awareness Day, which means there’s no better time to learn about the biggest dangers to penguins — and how you can help the ocean’s best-dressed birds thrive for years to come.

1. Overfishing 

Jackass penguins rest on the beach near Cape Town, South Africa. African penguins have been hard-hit by overfishing of their preferred prey species. Credit: Sergey Uryadnikov / Shutterstock

Jackass penguins — named for their donkey-like braying — are the only species of penguin to call Africa home. In the 1950s, Namibia’s jackass penguins mostly ate fatty, nutritious sardines. But in the 1970s, overfishing triggered a collapse of sardine stocks. Namibian penguin colonies were forced to switch to bearded gobies as their main source of prey. Though these gobies are abundant, they’re low in fat and nutrients — making them the penguin equivalent of junk food. A 2010 report blamed this crummy diet for the decline in the country’s penguin populations. In South Africa, similar collapses of small bait fish also caused jackass penguins to drop precipitously. And there are fears that in Antarctica, the fledgling krill fishery has the potential to decimate Adelie, chinstrap, gentoo and macaroni penguins if not tightly controlled.

2. Plastic pollution 

A fairy penguin killed by plastic trash on Troubridge Island, Australia. Credit: Jane McKenzie / Environment Protection Authority South Australia

By 2050, nearly every species of seabird will be accidentally eating plastic debris — and that includes penguins. This is the conclusion from a 2015 study that warned that, at current rates of plastic production and pollution, 99.8 percent of the 186 species included in the report would be chowing down on plastic trash by mid-century. Eating plastic causes major problems for penguins  and other marine animals. If a bird swallows enough plastic, for example, the indigestible scraps can build up in its gut and prevent it from digesting real food. Plastic is also efficient at absorbing industrial toxins from ocean water. These pollutants have been linked to a slew of health problems from neurological and reproductive disorders to cancer and birth defects.

3. Industrial development

Proposed industrial developments threaten the world’s largest colony of Humboldt penguins. Credit: Natural Earth Imagery / Shutterstock

In Chile, a cluster of islands off Punta de Choros is home to approximately 80 percent of the world’s Humboldt penguins. But this vital nesting site is being threatened by two new open-pit mines, a desalinization plant and a commercial port. Increasing ship traffic and coastal development will expose the region’s marine life to pollution, oil spills, disruptive noise and habitat loss. Now, Oceana Chile is partnering with local communities, other NGOs and concerned Chilean citizens to oppose the new development and protect this vital stronghold for Humboldt penguins.

4. Invasive predators

Fairy penguins are the smallest species of penguin — making them perfect fodder for invasive foxes. Credit: EA Given / Shutterstock

On Australia’s Middle Island, fairy penguin numbers plummeted after red foxes were introduced on the mainland to control rabbit populations. But foxes quickly learned they could cross to the island at low tide and feast on adult penguins and their chicks. In 1999, there were over 500 resident penguins. By 2006, that number plummeted to fewer than 10. Luckily, a local man had the smart idea of raising Maremma livestock guardian dogs among these blue-hued birds. The puppies imprinted on the penguins and defended them from foxes. Since then, there’s been no evidence that foxes have killed a single one of these fish-loving fairies.

Penguins elsewhere are not so lucky. On the Galapagos Islands, made famous by Charles Darwin, resident penguins face an onslaught of invaders they did not evolve to withstand. Introduced black rats and house mice feast on penguin eggs. Nonnative plants destroy nesting habitat. And in 2007, a single house cat at Isabela Island’s Caleta Iguana increased the average yearly risk of death for an adult penguin by 49 percent — proving that Little Fluffy can be a voracious killer of wildlife if not kept indoors.

5. Climate change

Climate change is increasing the intensity of storms and decreasing penguins’ food supply, which makes life particularly tough for penguin chicks. Credit: 2j architecture / Shutterstock

In Punta Tombo, Argentina, storms are becoming more intense and frequent, and that’s bad news for Magellanic penguin chicks. A 2014 study that tracked almost 3,500 chicks from 1983 to 2010 found that rainstorms and extreme temperatures were major causes of death for young penguins. Rain is particularly harmful to chicks as their fluffy down is only insulating when it’s dry. Over the 27-year-long study, penguin numbers dropped by 20 percent while the number of storms during each nesting season rose. This makes climate change one of the potential culprits behind Punta Tombo’s missing Magellans.

Climate change doesn’t just hurt penguin chicks directly. It can also slash the amount of food that their parents can find and bring back to the nest. Rockhopper penguins, which breed on islands and coastlines north of the Antarctic Circle, have seen some giant population drops in recent years. On Marion Island, 1,900 kilometers (1,200 miles) south of Cape Town, rockhopper penguin numbers plummeted by 52 percent from 1987 to 2013. One 2008 study attributed this decline to the underfed conditions of adults — which in turn was bad news for hungry chicks entirely dependent on their parents for food. Warmer water, shifting winds and a host of other climate change induced factors may be to blame for the starving birds.

How you can help

It can be hard to directly help a penguin in trouble — after all, most of the world’s human population lives in the northern hemisphere, and all penguins species live south of the equator. But there are plenty of ways you can support healthy, vibrant oceans.

 

Source credit: https://oceana.org/

 

For the seventh year running Cape Town has been voted the best city in the world by more than 39 000 readers of The Telegraph who took part in the 2019 Telegraph Travel Awards.

Cape Town has been described as “a coastal gem, lying in the shadow of a cloud-hugged mountain” where “wine flows, penguins waddle and – not too far away – majestic beasts roam”.

The Mother City has retained its position despite major shifts in the top 20, such as Kyoto, a brand new entrant, ranking third.

What makes Cape Town the world’s most desirable city?

Geography, weather, Cape Point, Bo-Kaap, Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, and Table Mountain were some of the city’s highlights that were featured.

Cape Town managed to retain its top position despite the recent water crisis not having been forgotten, noted Member of the Mayoral Committee for Economic Opportunities and Asset Management, including Tourism, James Vos.

“We retained this position as the best city in the world despite The Telegraph also noting our ‘earnest notes to flush only when absolutely necessary’. While perhaps a bit of a tongue-in-cheek comment on their part, it is a reminder of the major challenges the City and our tourism sector faced. It is also a reminder of how Capetonians acted together to save  water and avert the taps running dry. While we are still in recovery mode, it is encouraging that we have retained our top position despite other major shifts in the rankings. This is something we can be proud of.”

MMC Vos added: “The priority for my team and I is to diversify tourism products so more people can  benefit from the millions of visitors we have every year. Combined with promoting the already impressive sites and attractions we have in Cape Town, I intend to make tourism a game-changer for our city.”

CEO of Cape Town Tourism Enver Duminy says, “Being voted the world’s best city for yet another year underscores Cape Town’s fantastic tourism offerings and that we remain an unparalleled destination and one whose multiple tourism initiatives have ensured that we can continue to attract visitors from all over the globe. We would like to acknowledge and thank our member products and experiences on delivering on and exceeding the expectations of visitors and locals alike without fail. As high-season approaches lets ensure that everyone experiences world-class tourism in and around Cape Town.”

The 2019 Telegraph Travel Awards list of 20 best cities in the world:

  1. Cape Town
  2. Vancouver
  3. Kyoto
  4. Sydney
  5. St Petersburg
  6. Singapore
  7. Venice
  8. Luang Prabang
  9. Seville
  10. New Orleans
  11. Havana
  12. New York
  13. Bagen
  14. Florence
  15. Istanbul
  16. Rome
  17. Dubrovnik
  18. Tokyo
  19. Krakow
  20. Buenos Aires

Source credit: capetown.travel

 

Planning a holiday can be a lot of fun, but there are some big decisions to make before you start. The biggest question: what time of year should you visit? Read on to find out the best time to visit Cape Town.

VISITING CAPE TOWN IN JANUARY AND FEBRUARY

January is one of Cape Town’s busiest months, and for good reason. It’s usually hot and sunny, and there are loads of summer events to attend. Summer is in full swing. The daily temperatures average between 17°C (63°F) and 28°c (82°F), although it can reach as high as 40°C (104°F). Cape Town has a Mediterranean climate, which means that it gets its rainfall in the winter months, so January and February are mostly dry. Expect long, warm days with blue skies, when the sun only sets after 8pm and there’s always something going on. It can be windy sometimes, and Cape Town is a fantastic windsurfing destination in January and February. Many people believe this is the best time to visit Cape Town, which means January is peak season. Flights and accommodation are a little more pricey, and attractions can be busy so it’s a good idea to plan your timing to get there before the crowds. Luckily you have over 14 hours of daylight to work with every day, so you’re in no rush. By February, things have calmed down a little, but it’s still quite busy.

Perfect for: beaches, water sports, views, outdoor activities, adventure
Pack: sandals, swimsuit, loads of sunscreen, shorts and dresses

 

 

VISITING CAPE TOWN IN MARCH AND APRIL

March is the beginning of the shoulder season, when the summer holiday crowds have left. During March and April, there are a number of very big events, including the Two Oceans Marathon, the Cape Town Cycle Tour, and Easter Weekend, which bring in quite a few local and international tourists. These few weekends can be very busy, and flights and accommodation are booked up long in advance and can be a little more expensive than other times. If you’re not coming for those events specfically, plan around them for lower price. Temperatures in March and April are between 15°C (59°F) and 27°c (81°F). By April, the first cold fronts of the winter sometimes begin, bringing an average of six days of rain throughout the month, whereas March only has an average of two rainy days.

Perfect for: big events, shoulder season rates, outdoor activities, fewer crowds
Pack: summer gear, swimsuit, and one or two warmer items for the evenings

 

Table Mountain From Big Bay

VISITING CAPE TOWN IN MAY

By May Cape Town is starting to cool down significantly. This is when the first rains fall, and days are often chilly enough for a light jersey/sweater. Temperatures in May are between 13°C (55°F) and 22°c (72°F). There are very few tourists around, so there is easy access to all the major attractions, although you run the risk of rain putting a damper on things. May comes with it’s own advantages though. There is seldom any wind, so on clear days the beaches are beautiful. The sea is actually warmer in the winter months too, so the beach isn’t off the cards yet. Rain only falls an average of nine days in the month so there are many gorgeous sunny afternoons still to be had. May is also the month when the annual winter restaurant specials kick off, and you can enjoy some of the world’s best fine dining experiences at a fraction of the usual price. Accommodation providers also have winter specials. May is the perfect time to skip the crowds, save money, and still have a great time in this fantastic city.

Perfect for: saving money, wining and dining, road trips, quiet beach days
Pack: light jerseys or sweaters, a jacket, boots, but also clothes that suit warmer weather

 

VISITING CAPE TOWN IN JUNE, JULY, AND AUGUST

June, July, and August are mid-winter, so they’re the rainiest months as well as the coldest, but depending on your interests this can definitely be the best time to visit Cape Town. There are barely any crowds at the top attractions, for starters. Just make sure your trip doesn’t coincide with Table Mountain’s annual winter closure (usually for two weeks at the end of July). The restaurant and accommodation specials continue throughout these colder months, and flights are much cheaper than other times of year. It’s also worth mentioning that Capetonians have a very South African definition of cold. Temperatures are between 11°C (52°F) and 20°c (68°F), and most days are a crisp but bearable 13°C (55°F). Rain falls an average of 10-11 days in each month. There is occasional snow on the high-lying mountain regions outside of the city, and there are regular clear days in the Winelands where you can have lunch beside a fireplace with spectacular views of the snow-capped mountains and sprawling vines. It’s also the greenest time of year, and while days are shorter, there are still around 10 hours of daylight every day. On clear days, hiking is incredible. There are waterfalls tucked away in iridescent green forests, and mornings often bring moody fog in from the sea. July and August are also peak whale season, when southern right and humpback whales can be seen calving in the shallow waters just off shore.

Perfect for: off-peak rates, fewer crowds, wining and dining, amazing views and skies, hiking, whale watching
Pack: rain jackets, boots, layers (the weather can change over a few hours), scarf, coat

 

VISITING CAPE TOWN IN SEPTEMBER AND OCTOBER

September marks the start of spring in Cape Town. You’ll catch the end of whale season, but this time of year is most famous for the wildflowers. All over the Western Cape, blooms take over vast fields and mountains and splash the region with bursts of colour. The rains ease up a little, falling only five to eight days each month. Temperatures are between 13°C (55°F) and 21°c (70°F), and most days are 14-16°C (57-61°F). The winter specials also end around this time, so the days of frugal travel are over, but it’s worth the extra few pennies for the longer, warmer days, drier weather, and outdoor adventure. There are some great music festivals to attend too. It’s also shoulder season, so prices are still lower and you’ll be able to miss the crowds that come with summer.

Perfect for: seeing wildflowers, whale watching, outdoor activities, hiking, outdoor events

JitterBug Tours

VISITING CAPE TOWN IN NOVEMBER AND DECEMBER

During the summer months toward the end of the year, Cape Town really comes to life. The long, balmy days are a treat for locals and visitors alike, and people come out in droves to go to beaches, attractions, festivals, and events. There are food and wine festivals, outdoor music shows, beach parties, and all kinds of summer joys. This is the start of peak season, and there’s something cool going on every day and night. By December, things are in full swing and it’s the most festive time of year by far. The wind picks up in the summer months, but this is also the time you’ll find picture-perfect summer days. There’s hardly any rain, and temperatures are back up between 17°C (63°F) and 28°c (82°F). It’s a great time of year

Perfect for: parties, outdoor events and activities, beach days, hiking, adventure
Pack: sandals, swimsuit, loads of sunscreen, shorts and dresses, possibly a light warm top and jeans for the occasional evening chill

Neighbourhoods - Clifton and Camps Bay - 15-Camps-Bay-Sunset-Landscape

Source Credit: capetown.travel

Take advantage of our Spring Special to get 15% off your accommodation and breakfast at Mariner Guesthouse in Simon’s Town (CTN) – valid until end November 2019. Contact us for a quote: info@marinerguesthouse.co.za and find more information on www.marinerguesthouse.co.za.

Cape Town Travel and Tourism

Spotting a King penguin on a whale watching trip in False Bay/Cape Town – this certainly came as a wonderful surprise!
This bird is far off its normal range as illustrated in the accompanying map, but is in good shape as confirmed by SANCCOB and will remain under their caring eyes for the duration of its visit.
This rare event is a real treat for birders – I wonder what our local African penguins make of it?

Interesting facts about king penguins

The king penguin is the second largest species of penguin at 70 to 100 centimeters (2.3 to 3.2 feet) tall and weighs 11 to 16 kilograms (24 to 35 pounds). In size it is second only to the emperor penguin.

There are an estimated 2 to 3.2 million breeding pairs.

Lifespan is 15 to 20 years in the wild, and up to 30 years in captivity.

King penguins eat small fish, mainly lantern fish and squid and rely less than most Southern Ocean predators on krill and other crustaceans.

Ice and water in Antarctica is primarily salty, making it impossible for most animals to drink. The king penguins stomach, however, has adapted to drinking salt water. Its powerful stomach can separate the salt completely, allowing the bird to drink without becoming dehydrated.

The body is a dark black and grey mix all down the back. They have dark yellow on their bill and the back of the neck. They also have this yellow color on the front as the bit of black there gives way to the rest being all white.

 

To keep warm, King penguins have four layers of feathering.The outer layer of feathers are oiled and waterproof, not unlike the feathering of a duck.

The king penguin is one of the most elegant of all penguin species as it’s long and slender body helps the king penguin to glide through the water with great ease.

The average cruising speed for a King Penguin while swimming ranges somewhere between 5 and 10 km per hour (3 to 5 miles per hour).

 

King penguins are excellent divers and have been known to dive as deep as 300 meters (980 ft)!

King Penguins live on the sub-antarctic islands at the northern reaches of Antarctica, as well as Tierra del Fuego, the Falkland Islands and other temperate islands of the region.

King Penguins form gigantic colonies when they come in to shore during the mating season. One colony at South Georgian Island is estimated to have over 200,000 birds.

 

King Penguins are “serially monogamous” – they mate with only one mate per season, working with their mate to hatch the egg and care for the chick. However, unlike some other species of penguin, they’re not so likely to return to the same mate the next year – about 70% will find a new mate the following season.

King penguins are one of the few birds that do not build nests, eggs are incubated under the belly on top of their feet.

It takes 54 days for the eggs to hatch, during which time males and females take shifts incubating them.

 

 

After hatching, parental duties continue to be equally shared by both male and female, with one staying on land to brood the chick while the other goes in search of food at sea.

When the chick reaches around six weeks old, it joins a group of chicks known as a creche, thus allowing both parents to go foraging at the same time, in order to bring back enough food for the voracious offspring.

 

The creche provides the woolly chicks with protection from predators, as well as the benefit of collective warmth.

The chick grows a warm brown fluffy down of feathers. They also grow a thick layer of blubber to keep them warm during the winter months ahead.

The chicks huddle in their creches during the winter months while the parents occasionally come onshore to feed them. In the spring the parents come back and start feeding the chicks again.

At this time, the chicks starts to grow their adult feathers and are ready to go off on their own. Raising a King penguin chick usually takes 10 to 13 months.

Once a young King Penguin does leave its colony it will not return until at least 3 years later when it’s able to mate.

At sea, the key predators of King penguins are the leopard seals and killer whales who wait beneath the surface near the shore for unsuspecting birds.

Some king penguin colonies were completed exterminated. This occurred as a result of hunting in the 19th and 20th Centuries. People hunted the king penguins for their skin, oil, blubber and eggs.

King penguins have legal protection from hunting and the collection of their eggs. According to the Antarctic Treaty of 1959, it is illegal to harm or interfere with any penguin or its eggs.

Today, the king penguin populations in the sub-Antarctic Oceans appear to be thriving and better still increasing in numbers with more than two million breeding pairs of king penguins found around the freezing waters.

Like almost all animals, king penguins ordinarily have round pupils in their eyes. However, this all changes when their pupils constrict. Of all king penguin facts, one of the most bizarre is that, when constricteda king penguin’s pupils are actually square in shape.

Source credit:
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