St Helena Online

The day Wayne picked up a penguin (not a chocolate one)

Two Gentoo penguins onj a grey pebble beach - actually Antarctica
Gentoo penguins: hitch-hiking's tricky when you haven't got a thumb (photo by Martha de Jong-Lantink on Flickr)

Even in the Falkland Islands, it seems, a penguin can be a slightly surreal sight. It’s not often, for instance, that they’re seen hitch-hiking.

Quite how a flightless sea bird ended up 30 kilometres inland is not explained in Catherine Lengyel’s article in The New York Times. Perhaps it was in training for the world’s most southerly marathon.

She tells how Wayne, her host at Port Howard Lodge, pointed the spot where he’d spotted the black-and-white stray. “We picked him up and put him in the back seat of the Land Rover. Drove him to the coast at Fox Bay.”

The story provides the opening anecdote in an engaging, intelligent article.

It was spotted by Lisa Watson, editor of Penguin News (“It’s not just news about penguins”). She shared the link on the Twitter messaging website, with the comment: “I’ll put money on it you won’t be able to help smiling at the first anecdote in this Falklands article.”

Read it here.

Gentoo penguin numbers on the Falklands have hit a record high, according to MercoPress news agency. The population is estimated to be 132,321 breeding pairs, the largest number since estimates began in 1933.

The Falkland Islands are thought to be home to more Gentoo penguins than anywhere else.

Rockhopper numbers have “become stable,” according to a census report by Falklands conservation officer Al Bayliss, but well below 1930s levels.


Tristan penguin rescuers triumph – maybe


Gentoo penguins – BBC images and videos
Rockhopper penguins – BBC

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