Archive for May, 2007

May 18 2007


Well hello, Penguin 5 here, posting you from the road – I mean, of course, from the ice. It is good to be about and among my fellow penguins, resting and roaming, lying in the sun, swimming in the sea.

I don’t know about you but I certainly enjoyed Penguin 4’s joke – it was good to laugh again. I’ve made a friend named Fred from the McMurdo Station, Ross Island, here in Antarctica. Her name isn’t really Fred but I don’t really want to get her into trouble in case one of the top mucky-mucks in Washington doesn’t believe in penguins and humans spending too much time together. There are a lot of scientists around here. I got a business card from someone from The Scripps Institution of Oceanography. They get money from the National Science Foundation. They have what they call a Penguin Ranch. Anyway I’m not sure what I think about the name but Fred gave me a bunch of pictures and diagrams documenting some of their work which I’ll share. Maybe you can come up with a better name. I have an idea about the ranch but more about that later.


The Penguin Ranch – The Research Center, J. Heil

Well you can just imagine how many penguins are flocking and flopping their way over here for a room, or some ice, with a view.


A Penguin Arrives – The Penguin Ranch, K.Ponganis

The scientists at Penguin Ranch are particularly interested in how we swim and fish and what we talk about after work. They drilled a special hole in the ice with an observation chamber to see us swim. But I’m pretty sure they don’t understand Penguinese. So most of our secrets are safe. Of course a blabbermouth like me isn’t helping matters.


Good Fences Make Good Neighbors – Or Corrals as the Scientists Say
Emily Stone, National Science Foundation

It’s obviously time for a dip:


Penguin 4526 Volunteers to Go First
Emily Stone, National Science Foundation

Here is a picture of the observation tube:


Looking up the observation tube in McMurdo Sound.

And this is what Penguin 4526 looks like from the underwater observation tunnel on his way up to the hole.


Penguin 4526 Returns to Penguin Ranch
Emily Stone, National Science Foundation

As some of you who have read my previous posts know, I am a bit skeptical about some of the ways human beings are interacting with us.


Melanie Conner, National Science Foundation

Fred took me to the National Science Foundation’s website. This is what it said about our penguin diving: “The routine occurrence of 500-meter dives during foraging trips is a physiological and behavioral enigma. Ponganis examines pressure tolerance, management of oxygen stores, end-organ tolerance of diving hypoxemia/ischemia, and deep-dive foraging behavior. This information provides insight into human diving physiology and has medical applications for patients whose organs or tissues have been deprived of oxygen due to heart attack, stroke, transplant, etc.” That’s a lot of big words for a small penguin.

Fred, though, is very committed to finding ways to solve the climate crisis. Living here in the Antarctic, she and some of her fellow scientists have a better understanding about our lives – and the importance of the glaciers, the ice, and the delicate balance of life here.


Some of Fred’s Friends
Kristan Hutchison, National Science Foundation

I’m not really sure that every penguin is pleased with the service at Penguin Ranch but, as Penguin 4 has shown, it helps to tell a penguin joke every now and then.

Anyway, Fred has shared a bit about human life here. And if half of what she says is true, it wouldn’t be a bad idea for some of us penguins to build a Human Ranch with observation windows. Any chance the National Science Foundation would pay for that? Where do we get a grant application? I’m sure we qualify under the income guidelines.

In the meantime, if any of you adult humans out there are interested in some human stories about living and working in and around penguins and for the government, you can check out: Big Dead Place: Welcome to the Program. I’m not sure what Penguin 4 will think about it and there are some bad human words – so please read it before to see whether you want your kids to check it out – but it’s not often we penguins see into the world of penguin-watchers. And it’s good for us penguins to be thinking about something other than penguin problems. Like ice-cubes rather than glaciers.

I’ll leave you with the following:


Emperors Struggling With Iceberg Blockade
Gerald Kooyman, NSF/Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Keep those cards and letters coming.

No responses yet

May 08 2007


Well I must admit we all miss Penguin5 a bit more than we expected. Here’s a photo one of the researchers took – that’s me in the background as Penguin5 takes one last look back as he heads off on his adventure.


Penguin4 watches as Penguin5 slowly heads off

Photo: Kris Kuenning, National Science Foundation

Meanwhile I’m very pleased about our new focus on humor. Penguin 3, our webmistress – and we penguins know about using the web – just found the following cartoon:


The Cause of Global Warming, HoleyHands

She’s convinced it’s very funny. From the penguin school of thought that you have to be willing to laugh at yourself before you can laugh at others.

So what do you think? Funny, no? Or not funny?

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May 05 2007


For those of you who had hoped to be reading Penguin 5’s latest post about global warming and the climate crisis, I have some sad news. Well not so sad because he’s getting some well needed rest. But it’s just that the rest of us – Penguins 1 – 10 minus #5 – felt that he was turning a bit too sarcastic. I think what got to him was the penguins on the treadmill. Anyway, we chipped in and sent Penguin5 on a fishing trip.

We’ll let you know how he’s doing.

Just for the record, we are, after all, for much of the time a happy-go-lucky bunch.

And, in the interest of reaching out to our human brethren and sistren, we the Penguin Speakers felt that humor might ultimately work better than anger.

And since I’m known as the life of the penguin party, I thought I’d give it a shot:

Have you heard about the human who was driving down the highway with a car full of penguins. There were penguins everywhere: penguins leaning out the windows, penguins popping up out the sunroof, a penguin riding shotgun, and penguins loaded in the back seats. Well a few miles down the road, the car gets pulled over by a policeman. Who walks up and leans in and tells the driver that if he doesn’t want a ticket, he better take all the penguins right back to the zoo. Well without any hesitation, the driver promises that, first thing he’ll drive straight to the zoo. And he drives off.

Well the next day, the human was driving down the exact same highway with the same car full of penguins. There were penguins everywhere: penguins leaning out the windows, penguins popping up out the sunroof, a penguin riding shotgun, and penguins loaded in the back seats. The only thing different is that the penguins were all wearing sunglasses! All of a sudden, the car is stopped by the same policeman. The policeman is pretty annoyed this time and he leans in and says, “I thought I told you to take these penguins to the zoo!”

“I did” says the human. “But, today I’m taking them to the beach!”

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