What better way to celebrate these waddling, cuddly and the most adorable feathered creatures, than by honouring them with their very own awareness day. April 25 every year is observed as World Penguin Day. A day also dedicated to spread global awareness of the growing human-made threats they face. This day also coincides with the annual northward migration of the Adélie penguins, living in the Antarctic, to get better access to food.
There are believed to be 17 penguin species, ranging from the Little Blue Penguin or the fairy penguins of Australia and New Zealand to the mighty Emperor Penguins found in Antarctica. And several of these are threatened by growing climate change with some on the brink of extinction. According to reports, at least 2 penguin species, Adélie and chinstrap penguins, have declined significantly in recent years, due to rise in warming on the Antarctic Peninsula.
Scientists have blamed issues such as intense fishing pressure on forage species like krill, besides pollution, degradation of breeding grounds and oil and gas development that pose as their existential threat. The species also face threats from oil spills, pesticides and construction. In the face of a warming climate, several other creatures like the polar bears, the Arctic foxes, and the crabeater seals have been bearing the brunt.
Awareness day like the World Penguin Day allow us to not only appreciate these majestic birds but also help to remind us that climate change is dramatically altering their habitat. We should yearn to protect the environment and not wait until World Penguin Day, because penguins can be loved all year long!
FUN PENGUIN FACTS
- The smallest species is the Little Blue Penguin
- Penguins explorer Antonio Pigafetta first called them “strange geese” in 1950s
- The male emperor penguins are the ones who incubate the egg
- Penguins’ suits act as camouflage as their black backs blend with the ocean water when seen from above, and the white bellies match the bright surface when viewed from below.
- Some penguin species mate for life
- Couples locate each other with unique sounds even in the presence of thousands of identical birds around
- They’re waterproof!
- Not all penguins live in the Arctic. Their habitat ranges from the ice shelf on Antarctica, like the emperor penguin, to some temperate islands near the equator, like the Galapagos penguin. Also, some penguin species also live in South Africa, New Zealand and Australia.
The writer is a working professional based out of New Delhi. She is a travel enthusiast and an animal lover with a deep and particular liking for penguins.