Image courtesy of Jean Pennycook / Penguin Science

From: Jean Pennycook
Cape Royds, Antarctica, January 31, 2008

Our Last Day

This is our last day at Cape Royds. The chicks are old enough to be on their own; many parents have left and will not return. There is only one adult in this picture.

The chicks will finish molting, find their way to the water edge, their internal genetic programming controlling their behavior. They will know their food is in the ocean. They will go in without knowing how to swim, their first steps tentative, then sure. We will not see them again for two, perhaps three years as they will live out on the pack ice maturing and growing. They may return to Cape Royds, they may seek another breeding area. The banding that we have done (Jan. 29) to a small sample will helps us know what this population is doing as the years go by. Global climate change has altered the pack ice dynamics, some established breeding areas are less desirable now, some breeding area more desirable.

To read more about how these penguins are coping with change go to This will be our last postcard of the year. Look for us in November 2008 when we return to Cape Royds for another Adelie Penguin breeding season.

Postcards from the Field: Adelie Penguins 2007

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