Monday, September 28, 2009

Emperor Penguins
“Dance or drill, but don’t stand still,
Life is nothing but standing on will”!

The commencement of winters in Southern hemisphere is marked in the month of March wherein all the creatures get set to move to some relatively warmer places and to bid Good Bye to the Emperor who’s going to spend the entire winters on the Antarctica’s open ice.
The sovereign ruler of penguin empire, the Emperor Penguin who weighs around 22-45kgs and stands at an average height of 4 feet is not just the heaviest bird species on planet Earth but also boasts of having a startling life span of 40+ years when most other penguin species have a life expectancy of just 10 years. This elegant bird is very easy to spot in black cap, blue-grey neck, orange ear patches and bills and yellow breasts.

Living out the entire winter on the Antarctic continent, this bird serves out the coldest, harshest (-60 degrees Celsius) weather seen nowhere else in the planet whilst incubating the egg at the same time which is laid by the female after several weeks of their courtship.

During this time, the male emperor penguin stands for about 65-120 days through icy temperatures, nasty winds and blinding storms balancing the egg on his feet and covering it with his brood pouch, a very warm layer of feathered skin to keep the egg cozy. As a matter of surprise, it eats nothing until the female counterpart returns and takes the charge of the young one from him. A great babysitter, indeed!
Wondering where the female goes? The female takes off towards the open sea to feed, travelling up to 80 kilometers across the frozen surface. Once the female is back to nurture and feed the by now hatched egg by regurgitating, the male emperor finally gets chance to head out and grab some munch.
The menu of his preferred chow-chow includes fish, crustaceans such as krill, shrimp, crabs and cephalopods, such as squid. While hunting or diving, this species can remain underwater up to 18 minutes diving to a depth of nearly quarter to 2 feet.
They survive-breeding, raising the young ones and eating- by relying on a number of clever adaptations like unusually structured hemoglobin, solid bones, and the ability to reduce metabolism and shut down non-essential organ functions. Besides, they clump together in huge, huddled masses and take turns to move inside the group, where they are protected from the bitter winter elements. This surely seems to be a part of curriculum in penguin kindergarten!
Emperor Penguins greatly depend on sea ice for breeding and feeding but warmer air and sea surface temperatures are lessening the amount of snow each year. According to a 2007 survey by World Wildlife Fund (WWF), if global temperatures are allowed to mount by more than two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), it could cost the penguins their lives.
Over the past 50 years, according to a research, the population of the Antarctic Emperor penguins has gone down by 50 percent. Just like polar bears, penguins are now standing on decidedly thin ice as global warming changes their fate and habitat forever.
Paying the cost of human laxity, the emperor, if his condition still not paid heed, would gracefully toboggan into history, thereby leaving behind the reminiscences of mischievously funny but an ever-green lover species which made it practically impossible for us to look at them and feel angry …

1 comment:

priyamvada said...

good one yaar...they deserve some concern!!!!

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