April 25, 2011: Take a walk out to the end of San Francisco’s Pier 39, and you’ll hear an interesting symphony of barking California sea lions and reactions of delight and amusement from droves of human onlookers. And if you’re lucky, you might also find the “Gentleman Biologist of Pier 39,” Tim Vogel, a volunteer at the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, who has pursued tech career in Silicon Valley but has never forgotten his Seacamp roots. He spends hours teaching and inspiring visitors about the incredible wildlife of the West Coast and the wonders of science. Also: An update on the penguin rescue effort from Tristan da Cunha by Trevor Glass, Director of the Department of Conservation there.
EARTH DAY 2011: This isn’t what I had planned to write for Earth Day. But it’s the most important thing I can write today. I write these words with a single, challenging purpose: I need you to care deeply about something. I need you to care about something that wasn’t supposed to be possible. I need you to care so deeply that you choose to help. And to make things even more challenging, what I need you to care about is a place you’ve never heard of and are very unlikely to see in your lifetime, a place that’s such an infinitesimally tiny speck lying quite literally in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean, it appears on few maps (and even befuddles Google maps). And unless you’re one of the fewer than 300 people that call Tristan da Cunha home, it will take you at best 5-7 days to get to this airstrip-lacking place even if you dash out the door before finishing this paragraph. Tristan da Cunha is, quite literally, the most remote inhabited island in the world. A sign on the island boasts this factoid, alongside a marker pointing east toward the nearest civilization: 1,511 miles to Cape Town, South Africa. Read more
Dramatic video shot by Kristine Hannon details the rescue of 12 crew members aboard the bulk carrier, “Oliva,” on March 17, 2011, where it grounded the prior day. Within hours of the successful rescue, the ship broke in two and sunk, unleashing a massive oil spill, threatening millions of seabirds including the endangered Northern Rockhopper penguins. Read more
April 4, 2011: Our guest this week, penguin expert, Dyan deNapoli, “The Penguin Lady,” former Senior Penguin Aquarist at the New England Aquarium, talks about her new book, The Great Penguin Rescue. with important lessons — and hope — for the desperate penguin rescue and rehabilitation efforts underway following the tragic oil spill at Nightingale Island in the South Atlantic. Also: An update on the rescue effort from Tristan da Cunha by Katrine Herian of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.
Dr. David E. Guggenheim, the “Ocean Doctor,” is interviewed about the tragic oil spill at Nightingale Island and rescue operations to save the endangered Northern Rockhopper penguins. Read more
During a briefing by The Ocean Foundation to the conservation NGO community in Washington, DC, Katrine Herian, a project officer of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) stationed at Tristan da Cunha, informed us by telephone that the desperate effort to rescue endangered Northern Rockhopper penguins from neighboring Nightingale and Inaccessible Islands (the latter a World Heritage Site) continues, with roughly 2,300 penguins already relocated for rehabilitation on Tristan da Cunha and another 600 birds expected last evening. Read more
March 28, 2011: An update on the oil spill at Nightingale Island and the fate of half of the world’s endangered Northern Rockhopper penguin population. Ashore at last on Tristan da Cunha, the most remote inhabited island on Earth. And two amazing people with amazing jobs at the bottom of the planet, and advice for those seeking them: Prince Albert II expedition team members Robin Aiello and Luke Kenny.
ABOARD PRINCE ALBERT II: I spoke today with Katrine Herrion, a project officer of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) stationed at Tristan da Cunha.
Katrine was camped on Inaccessible Island last weekend and reports that as of Sunday, oil completely surrounded the island. She and her team observed nearly 100 oiled penguins just before they departed. Clearly many more are being impacted.
Trevor Glass, Director of the Tristan da Cunha Department of Conservation was planning to return to Tristan da Cunha from Nightingale Island with around 750 penguins for rehabilitation. This represents a small percentage of the number of birds estimated to be impacted at this point, conservatively estimated at more than 10,000.
Because penguins cannot fly, it is impossible for them to avoid the oil when entering and exiting the water. Oil impacts the waterproof properties of their feathers and makes them vulnerable to hypothermia by reducing their feather’s insulation abilities. Oil can seriously impact the birds’ eyes and other tissues and can poison them if they ingest the oil while attempting to clean their feathers. A number of oiled seals have also been observed on Nightingale Island. Read more
March 21, 2011: The Prince Albert II finds itself in the middle of a rescue mission as its expedition team comes to the rescue of a cargo ship that has run aground at one of the most remote islands in the world, Nightingale Island, part of the Tristan da Cunha island group, an area that is home to the second largest population of seabirds in the world, including half of the world’s endangered Northern Rockhopper penguin population. When the ship breaks up and begins spilling its 300,000 gallons of heavy marine oil, it becomes clear that this may rank as one of the most serious environmental disasters of its kind.
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