Happy World Penguin Day!

Today is officially world penguin day.  Most people think of penguins as cold loving, Antarctica dwelling sea birds.  This is largely true but some penguins enjoy warmer weather.  Once years ago, I encountered a penguin on the beaches of Tasmania.  I had been waiting on the beach just after sun down, for penguins to appear from the foamy tide and make their way to burrows (they come in at this time, presumably to avoid predators and feed their chicks before sleeping).  I stood in the shadow of the steep bank leading to the beach, trying not to move much and becoming colder and colder in the Tasmanian winter night.  So I decided to head back to my rental car, just to warm up for a moment.  As I was making my way back towards the beach, a tiny creature saw me at the top of the path and terrified, practically fell over itself running back down the hill!  It was a Fairy or Little Blue Penguin (Eudyptula minor) the world’s smallest penguin, endemic to the coasts of Australia and New Zealand.  I was both excited to see the little penguin but also horrified that I had startled it so much.  To this date, it’s the only penguin I’ve seen in the wild and a brief encounter but one I will remember for a very long time.  Through out the world there are 17 species of penguin in six genera.  Not only do they live in Antarctica, Australia and New Zealand but also The Galapagos, Africa and South America.  So when you contemplate the role of the penguin today on world penguin day, think of them swimming even in tropical waters, little dinosaurs who are on a slow conquest of the last frontier for feathered creatures: the ocean.  You can learn more about penguins at penguinworld.com

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