In late 2008, nearly 1800 Magellanic penguins washed ashore in northern Brazil. Natives of southern Argentina, these penguins were hundreds of miles from where they belonged. No one is sure how so many penguins ended up so far from home, but scientists believe climate change is impacting migrations. The flow of warm water, 1°C higher than normal, could have led the penguins to Brazil, or they might have been searching for waters still populated by krill, penguins’ dwindling food supply. After rehabilitation, with help from the IFAW, the nearly 400 surviving penguins were airlifted and released back into the water in southern Brazil. The other penguins unfortunately died of starvation or exhaustion. The US government is being petitioned to add penguins to the coverage provided by the Threatened and Endangered Species Act; a decision will be made by December 13, 2008.
By Danielle Klimashousky