Saturday, September 20, 2008


Before I talk about penguins, let me say how impressed I am that NRH from Ms. Shuwarger's fifth grade class took up my challenge to learn about nacreous clouds (or polar stratospheric clouds). She did a wonderful job of describing them and explaining what they are.

The class asked about penguins, so this is for you:  Emperor penguins are the largest of all penguins, standing up to 42 inches (115 cm) tall and weighting 84 lb (38 kg).  The female lays the egg, but it is soon transferred to the father who incubates it for months under a skin fold and on top of his feet. While he incubates the egg, the mother walks about 70 miles (112 km) to the sea. She needs to eat krill, squid and shrimp. When she returns, the chick has been born and it is tranferred back to her care from the father. You already knew this because you watched Happy Feet and/or March of the Penguins.

There are many other types of penguins. We talked about some of them when I visited your class. Do you remember their names? There is a book in your classroom that can help you recall their names and appearances.

So, what I want to know from you is what type of egg incubating behaviors are exhibited by other penguin species. Do they build nests? If so, what do they use? Who tends the egg? I think what you discover will surprise you.

Speaking of penguins, there has been some research on the effect of global climate change on penguins. The news is mixed: some good, some bad. This news story will talk about how our climate is impacting penguins. The webpage contains a link to a 7 minute audio recording of the broadcast, a video, and an audio slide show. I hope you find it as interesting as I did.

I leave you with a beautiful image of an Antarctic sunset.......


Anniforscia said...

Hey Dr. S! I've been reading your blog from the start, and I love it! The pictures are amazing. I was wondering if you've actually seen any penguins yet. Are there any around where you live, or would you have to go on some sort of excursion to find them? Keep up the posting!
--Rachel (Meris's Rachel)

Bubba's Sis said...

I was wondering the same thing - let's see some pictures of YOU with the penguins!

Polar Doc said...

It's too early for the Adelie penguins. The sea ice is 40" thick. There is no open water, yet. I promise to post in the next two days and will include a picture of me....but, and this is a teaser, even though it is a picture of me, you will not be able to recognize me one bit.

The wind chill today was minus 35 F. Our medical team treated a case of hypothermia. All went well.

Jane Sorenson said...

Dr Shuwarger-
You are missed back at the ranch in Forest. Poor Dr R's gotta handle a lot of hormonal women!! I admire you all for your job choice. Robert wants to be a doctor! We love reading your blog, finding you on the globe. Take good care.
Jane, Bo and Robert Sorenson

Ms. Shuwarger's Class said...

Dear Dr.Shuwager,
I have been reading your blog and I have the answers to your some questions.I found that there are six types of seals in Antarctic: Antarctic Fur seals, Crabeater seals, Lepord seals, Ross seals,Southern Elephant seals,and Weddell seals. On your blog you asked about what kind of penguins make nests,which ones lay how many eggs,and if the female or the male takes care of the egg and I found out some intersting things. Female Emperor Penguins lay only one egg and give it to the male to warm it with his brood pouch. Female King Penguins lays one egg then gives it to the male to keep it warm on his feet. Female Rockhopper penguins make nests by creating a bowl shape in the ground and line it with dried grasses. Usually,the female lays two eggs. The second is the larger and that is the one they raise. The male and female take turns taking care of the egg. I have more to tell you, but I have to go to lunch.

redheadme said...

Dr S,
It all looks so exciting. I am pleae for you that you get to have this experience. I know you are soaking up all you can from it. It looks very beautiful there(if you dont think about the teperature.
You know you are greatly missed here at the office.
I will keep up with your blogs.

Polar Doc said...

To Mrs. Shuwarger's Class and KH in particular,

Well done! You named all the seals and described the nesting habits of some of the penguins. The Adelie penguins make a nest of rocks! And if they aren't watching, another penguin will steal their rocks.

The penguins will be here later on. Right now all I've seen are a couple of seals lounging on the sea ice - quite a distance from me.

Ms. Shuwarger's Class said...

Dear Dr. Shuwarger,
I found out the Adelie Pengiuns egg incubating behaviors are. They build nests out of pebbles. The females lay two eggs and the parents take turns incubating the eggs.

I hope this is what you wanted to know! By the way the whole class says hi. Especially Peter!

rowe said...

Just thought I'd say hi, and that you are staying warm,wish you could see the weather here. The weather has been asolutely beautiful, the leaves are starting to change. Anyway, I hope that each day is an accomplishment. keep up the good work. Rowe (SCL)