Stories tagged emperor penguins

Jun
02
2009

All eyes on penguin poop: Hey guys, don't worry where you poop. No one's gonna see where you've done it, especially any prying eyes from out in space.
All eyes on penguin poop: Hey guys, don't worry where you poop. No one's gonna see where you've done it, especially any prying eyes from out in space.Courtesy NASA
It might not be a good day for emperor penguins. That daily activity that we all do – the elimination of our solid waste – is letting the cat out of the bag on the migration patterns of Antarctica's largest birds.

Researchers using NASA satellite photos to look at their bases in Antarctica found something odd with the photos: large red streaks in otherwise colorless sea ice areas. Causing the strange coloration is emperor penguin poop. It's a huge discovery among the penguin researching crowd as they've had a hard time locating the breeding grounds of these penguins.

Here's the full report.

Since the emperors spend several months on the ice during their winter breeding season, the poop accumulates so much that it can be seen from space. And it's no ordinary poop. It's high in salt and high in odor, making it very undesirable to be around for humans. One researcher said he's lost a dozen pair of boots to salt damage caused by the penguin poop.

From the vantage point of space, scientists have been able to pinpoint 38 emperor penguin breeding areas, including the appearance of 10 new breeding site and disappearance of six old sites from the previous land-based mapping effort. All in all, it's good news for the emperor penguin population, which was thought to be in crisis because of diminishing ice surfaces around the edges of Antarctica.

Still skeptical about this? Here's a video report that shows what we're talking about here.