Penguin Awareness Day was created to celebrate one of our favorite animals. Almost everyone loves to watch penguins. They seem to do a perfect imitation of Charlie Chaplin! And, when they get in the water, they transform, losing all awkwardness as they become mini torpedoes.

January 20 is Penguin Awareness Day. This holiday is not the same as World Penguin Day, celebrated around the world with abandon on April 25. As much as we love penguins I’m not quite sure why they merit two international days of recognition. Yet, this is the case. On April 25, look for the release of 500,000 photos of penguins. That’s right; 500,000 photos will be released from Penguin Watch. Below is a preview image from this spectacular selection. This one is by Paul Goldstein/Exodus/Rex.


penguin_rex_Paul GoldsteinExodusRex


Expedition Emperor Penguins


Good and Bad News for Penguins!

As we have reported it has not been all good news from Penguin Land.

yellow eyed penquin new zealand AP croppedThe Guardian recently reported on penguins caught in trawler nets in New Zealand. As we reported in Penguins in Peril, the impact of this practice is extreme, especially on the endangered yellow-eyed penguinsIn response, the NZ government enacted a plan to install cameras on commercial fishing boats to track by-catch

The videos will monitor all victims of by-catch like sea lions, dolphins and seals that die in fishing nets or on long-lines. The footage is intended to augment the work of government observers. These observers are on board approximately 25% of the country’s deepwater trawlers.

Estimates are that for every kilogram of targeted catch (the marketable product that the ship intends to catch) there is .25 kilo of by-catch. The commercial fishing industry is the main culprit for declining populations of endangered sea lions and yellow-eyed penguins.

penquin bycatch fishing industryNow the New Zealand fishing industry has pushed back against the plan. They argue that if images are released to the public it may be injurious to both the fisheries industry and to brand New Zealand. Seems like they don’t want the average Joe to see cute little penguins drowned in fishing nets on the morning news.

“What they [the seafood industry] are saying is catching endangered penguins, dumping entire hauls of fish overboard and killing Hector’s dolphins looks really bad on TV. Well, the solution is to stop doing it, not to hide the evidence. It’s hard to think of a more credibility damaging activity than trying to change the law so the rest of us can’t see what’s really happening out there,” said Kevin Hague, chief executive of Forest & Bird.

The deepwater fishing industry accounts for 80% of New Zealand’s annual catch. And earns NZ$650m per annum in export dollars. That means it carries a lot of weight. Yet, so does the ethics of documentation, even if the images captured may elicit horrified responses in the general public. Seems like the lines are drawn.

For more news on penguins, we also reported the heartbreaking news of thousands of starving Adelie Penguin chicks in Antarctica.
On Penguin Awareness Day, let’s acknowledge the bad news and yet choose to celebrate this species. Penguins bring a smile to our faces. And after all, on the international stage, they merit two days of commemoration. Let’s give it to them.

By Robert Frerck, Blue Ocean Network


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