The Beacon

Penguins in Peril

As a child I adored the book Mr. Popper's Penguins. A dozen mischievous performing penguins? What could be better? And then there's Tacky the Penguin, a lesser-known children's book with a wonderful lesson about being yourself -- as illustrated by a penguin in a hawaiian shirt. And recently I saw March of the Penguins with my mom; we were both weeping by the end. Okay, so maybe I'm a sap, but the point is -- penguins are one of the most beloved creatures on Earth, and this week brought news that they are slipping away.

Penguins are a marine sentinel species -- they provide signals about the health of their marine environment -- and they are in trouble from overfishing, pollution from offshore oil operations, and now reduced sea ice threatens them further. Of the 17 penguin species more than half are listed as endangered or vulnerable.

The author of the report concluded: "The changes in penguin populations reflect rapid changes in the marine environment and show that people are doing a poor job of managing the oceans.

"We are changing the world, the course of evolution, and the species with which we share the planet. Can people change to allow other species to persist and coexist? That is the real question: can we, and will we, manage ourselves?"

[Image: P Dee Boersma via www.telegraph.co.uk]


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