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Penguins Disappearing From Southern Hemisphere 218

The Scotsman is running a piece looking at the mysterious disappearance of penguins from all around the world. A biologist who studies the rockhopper penguin characterizes the population crash as 'sinister', as scientists are still baffled as to why almost 30% of the birds have vanished. From the article: "Grant Munro, the director of Falklands Conservation, said there were fears that rockhoppers might become extinct. 'If the present situation were to carry on then it's not a particularly great forecast. It doesn't look like they are suddenly going to start increasing in numbers ... In the Falklands, they are part of everyday life. If you head down to the beach you are going to see penguins.'"
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Penguins Disappearing From Southern Hemisphere

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  • by dvice_null ( 981029 ) on Sunday December 24, 2006 @04:45AM (#17352412)
    > Penguins Disappearing From Southern Hemisphere

    Microsoft must be behind of all of this. Who else would like to see cute little penguins to disappear from the world.
    • manbearpig!!!!
    • Wow. Slashdot users do surprise me! The joke is funny, but using 'microsoft' on the new tagging system for this story is misleading! (I guess /. editors will have to tweak the threshold values for the number of times a tag must be set for a specific story to be considered valid)
      • by j_snare ( 220372 )
        I think in this case, this story was doomed to have the Microsoft tag on it. Whatever you want to limit it at, you're going to get enough jokers just because it's funny.

        I'll admit that the probably the second thought I had when I saw this story on the feed was about Microsoft.
    • ... god kills a penguin. Please save the penguins!
    • Exactly, this is why I 'tagged' this article with 'linux'.

    • Microsoft must be behind of all of this. Who else would like to see cute little penguins to disappear from the world.
      It's well known that the Rockhopper Penguins on the island of Suse are the primary food source for the North Pacific Ballrus. The Ballrus prey upon the Rockhopper Penguin excessively during periodic seasons when their young Vista have reached adolescence and are ready for one final feast before being released into the wild.
    • And how is Redmond doing this?

                                                                      SEAL teams!

      Ha, I kill me!
    • by Fizzl ( 209397 )
      Well duh. Simple correlation: More Linux products are emerging. Penguins mysteriously vanishing.
      I think Linux companies are poaching penguins en masse for packaging and advertising purposes!
  • by MrPerfekt ( 414248 ) on Sunday December 24, 2006 @04:50AM (#17352428) Homepage Journal
    So long... and thanks for all the fish!
  • by swatward ( 956094 ) on Sunday December 24, 2006 @04:51AM (#17352434)
    I felt a great disturbance in the [NOUN] , as if [AMOUNT] of [NOUN]'s suddenly [VERB] out in terror and were suddenly silenced.
    • "I felt a great disturbance in the [NOUN] , as if [AMOUNT] of [NOUN]'s suddenly [VERB] out in terror and were suddenly silenced."

      I felt a great disturbance in the Constitution , as if all of the founding father's suddenly screamed out in terror and were suddenly silenced.

      Offtopic. So what. So is most of Slashdot. ;)

  • by cfeedback ( 467360 ) on Sunday December 24, 2006 @04:54AM (#17352440) Journal
    Obviously too many penguins have been reading this [] book...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 24, 2006 @04:56AM (#17352444)
    If Penguins were featherless, covered in oozing mucous, constantly moaned in pain and had soulless empty sockets where their eyes should be we wouldn't care if they disappeared from the earth or not.
    • by eric.t.f.bat ( 102290 ) on Sunday December 24, 2006 @05:01AM (#17352464)
      Yeah - cos then they'd be the Microsoft mascot instead.
    • BULLSHIT! (Score:2, Funny)

      by Lord Kano ( 13027 )
      Penguins are not just cute. They're delicious too.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by bmo ( 77928 )
        "Penguins are not just cute. They're delicious too."

        It was at this time that Dr. Cook assumed moral command of the BELGICA. De Gerlache and Amundsen were busy with the details of preparing the ship to break free of the ice while Cook realized that the mood of the shipmates would become his responsibility. Cook knew the men needed sunlight and fresh meat. De Gerlache had already tasted penguin and seal meat and declared them both to be inedible. As for penguin meat, Dr. Cook said "If it's possible to imagine

    • by venicebeach ( 702856 ) on Sunday December 24, 2006 @06:54AM (#17352748) Homepage Journal
      If Penguins were featherless, covered in oozing mucous, constantly moaned in pain and had soulless empty sockets where their eyes should be we wouldn't care if they disappeared from the earth or not.
      Thus the selective advantage of "cuteness". It the same mechanism used by our young to ensure we want to take care of them.
      • But are they "cute" in that they meet some objective standard of "cuteness", or is "cuteness" merely the term we have chosen for what we (due to selection) feel when we see them?
    • by x2A ( 858210 )
      This is probably also true if instead of being called Penguins, they were all called Nick.

  • So long (Score:2, Funny)

    by lemnik ( 835774 )
    This would make more sense if it were dolphins!
  • and they will appear on the desktops all over the world!
  • by Lord Kano ( 13027 ) on Sunday December 24, 2006 @05:08AM (#17352486) Homepage Journal
    My new company KFP is going to put KFC out of business. I was just hoping that no one would notice the population drop until I was ready to go international.

    Fuck a chicken wing, penguin wings is the future.

    • by eebra82 ( 907996 )
      "Fuck a chicken wing, penguin wings is the future."

      I'm about to open up business with KFK. Kentucky Fried Kiwibirds. The wings on those are great, right? That's what my research shows.
  • by stevo3232 ( 794498 ) on Sunday December 24, 2006 @05:26AM (#17352526)
    From wikipedia: "Penguins (order Sphenisciformes, family Spheniscidae) are an order of aquatic, flightless birds living exclusively in the Southern Hemisphere."
    • Isn't there a colony of penguins in the northern hemisphere somewhere along the west coast of the america's?
  • by GoulDuck ( 626950 ) on Sunday December 24, 2006 @05:30AM (#17352540)
    Just like the T-Rex, the reason they disappear is because they can't break their fall. No arms, no way to save them self. Well, the T-Rex had arms, but they where to short to do any difference.
    • by khallow ( 566160 )
      I doubt penguins actually suffer that many falling injuries. They're smaller than humans and their blubber would help cushion the fall.
    • "Score 2: Interesting"??? Some mods obviously have trouble to distinguish "Interesting" from "Funny".

      And yeah, penguins possibly can't disappear from anywhere else than the Southern Hemisphere, because they don't live anywhere else. Except in a some desktop 'boxen'. They are too lively to be put into laptops.
  • Scientists may be baffled by the decline in penguin population, but (judging by the story tag) slashdotters seem to be assuming that it is global warming.

    • RTFA: It is thought that global warming may be behind its decline, as warmer seas are less productive and the penguins may not be able to find enough food to eat, but researchers admit they have not yet established the reasons.
    • They are just going into hiding. They have a secret lair under the ice where they will wait out global warming, patiently sharpening their tools, for they know that when the icecaps melt and humanity is thrown into chaos, that's when their day will come.

      And I, for one, will welcome our Eudyptulan overlords!
    • by Dunbal ( 464142 )
      but (judging by the story tag) slashdotters seem to be assuming that it is global warming.

            Judging by the story tag, slashdotters are also blaming Microsoft. What's your point?
      • OK, I've got it!

        Microsoft==Global Warming (it's those damned Intel processors). Slashdot has just figured out how to solve two of the world's most pressing problems. Now back to Penguins.

  • by advocate_one ( 662832 ) on Sunday December 24, 2006 @05:49AM (#17352590)
    they are wondrously imprecise... barring actually going everywhere and penning them all and then counting them out of the pens, you could say anything you like about the total numbers...

    just think of all the fudge factors they use as it is... x% assumed to be underwater catching fish, we've only counted them here and we'll assume things are the same over there...

    the only thing you can say with certainty is that the scientists are earnestly trying to count them and they haven't found as many of them as previous guesstimation figured there would be
  • Food Chain (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Detritus ( 11846 ) on Sunday December 24, 2006 @05:52AM (#17352598) Homepage
    What about the food chain? Is commercial fishing by humans affecting the penguin's food supply? Overfishing can have unanticipated effects on other species.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by orkysoft ( 93727 )
      How would that be unanticipated?

      Species P has fish as its main food source.
      Species H comes along and catches nearly all the fish.
      Species P has a problem getting enough food, and diminishes in number.
      • by Detritus ( 11846 )
        How about:

        • Humans overfish tasty-fish.
        • Tasty-fish was the major predator of tiny-fish.
        • Tiny-fish population explodes, putting severe pressure on one of their food sources, shrimp-larvae.
        • Shrimp-larvae population crashes. Adult-shrimp disappear.
        • Penguins lose their major food source, adult-shrimp, and starve.
  • Close but no cigar (Score:5, Interesting)

    by OriginalArlen ( 726444 ) on Sunday December 24, 2006 @06:04AM (#17352628)
    I heard this chap interviewed on the Today programme yesterday morning. He put great emphasis on pointing out that it's only the Rockhoppers that have declined: the Gentoo and Emperor penguin species seem to be unaffected by whatever's causing this. Readers in the UK running Windows legacy systems can watch the related TV story here []. Hmmm, and there's a story here from 2002. []
    • by lixee ( 863589 )
      the Gentoo and Emperor penguin species seem to be unaffected by whatever's causing this.
      Last time I checked, they were disappearing too. Early investigation suggested Ubuntu as the primary cause.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      The 2002 report has a less sensationalist headline and content, good find. (as well as not having a headline claiming "millions" dead and then detailing the 180 thousand dead.)

      It's pretty clear scientists have no idea why this is happening, but everyone loves to say "global warming" with little to no evidence, and this is no different.

      The gist of these articles is that similar to bears hibernating, these penguins molt and cannot swim anymore for short periods. Prior to this, they must fatten themselve
  • by advocate_one ( 662832 ) on Sunday December 24, 2006 @06:11AM (#17352648)
    the bl00dy great fishing fleets hoovering up the fish... [] and there's a whole sorry saga here... [] corrupt officials effectively condoning it.
    • by E++99 ( 880734 )
      What, it's not because of global warming? How is that possible? I thought everything was because of global warming.
  • and my radar-technician mates in her Majesty's Royal Airforce report that using the radar array to fry penguins with massive quantities of high frequency EM is a common pasttime there. Perhaps they've gotten a bit too enthusiastic as of late?
    • by Zocalo ( 252965 ) on Sunday December 24, 2006 @10:23AM (#17353340) Homepage

      That's highly unlikely as the RAF operates very strict flight regulations concerning the areas around the Falklands that are used by nesting penguins. Especially so during the breeding season when the noise of an overflying jet may startle a potential parent into letting the egg balanced on its feet to keep it warm come into contact with the frozen ground, almost certainly killing the chick within. More than one RAF pilot has had their flying status revoked and found themselves on the next transport plane home after being caught too close to the penguin colonies.

      For those of you old enough to remember the TV advert, the RAF most certainly does not "P-P-P-Pickle a Penguin".

  • by driptray ( 187357 ) on Sunday December 24, 2006 @06:29AM (#17352682)

    Don't blame global warming - the real culprit is thugs with knives: Penguins killed in sickening beach attack []

  • by October_30th ( 531777 ) on Sunday December 24, 2006 @06:38AM (#17352702) Homepage Journal
    You fools! Don't you realize what this means? It's the great penguin conspiracy!

    They've been honing their plan for total world domination for years while lulling people into a false sense of security by appearing cute and harmless cratures who just want to fish and frolic. Well, their plans are now complete and what appears as a mysterious disappearance of penguins is simply the beginning of the great penguin war.

    They are assembling an invincible penguin army deep in the secret caves under Antarctica. That's where all the penguins went.

  • ...they're just flying north for the winter. I'm sure they're all up in Hawaii working on their tans.
  • > In just six years their numbers have fallen from 600,000 to 420,000

    They're still going to be around for another two years, stop whining. The price of gasoline is lower, an SUV still gets over 15mpg, and all our manufacturing is done in China. There's nothing to worry about.
  • I suspect a conspiracy by FOOS (the Foes Of Open Source) to deprive Linux of its mascot.
  • Penguins are for life guys, not just for Christmas. Make sure the person you're giving one to really wants a penguin, and has the time to care for one.
  • Some smugglers found a use for something about those species of penguins, and they are harvesting them like mad.

    Might be some local 'delicatessen' thing going on in some part of underground china catering to some elite uppity crowd - (they eat anything except humans anyway), might be some collectors, might be some medical lab and so on.

    Best solution i think is to set an armed corvette there on patrol and some squad to roam the area as part of u.n. and see if the population will contunie to decline.
  • The great bulk of Antarctica has been cooling over the last 50 years and the major icesheets are growing. The only bit that has warmed is the Antarctic Peninsula, which has warmed by 3-4C

    This looks like a typical predator population crash.
  • Seals in the southern hemisphere appear to be suffering from an obesity epidemic.

  • We, as humans, feel the need to save every single species on the planet, just because they live in our time and we have direct interaction with them. Unless this is something like the Tasmanian wolf, the Dodo, or the Passenger Pigeon, perhaps the species is simply dying out for evolutionary reasons. Human beings are not the cause of every single extinction on the planet, though we have caused our fair share of extinctions for no good reason, except convenience. Andy
  • If penguins are disappearing from the southern hemisphere, the only rational scientific explanation is that global warming is causing their molecules to vibrate a higher rate, which is somehow making them transparent. NOW DON'T F-- WITH THE GLOBAL WARMING THEORY OF PENGUIN DISAPEARANCE, OR WE WILL CAUSE YOUR RUIN!!!
  • by Blain ( 264390 ) <slashdot&blainn,com> on Sunday December 24, 2006 @12:09PM (#17353816) Homepage Journal
    Teach them to dance.
  • I remember what's supposed to happen when all the dolphins leave; but I don't think he wrote about penguins disappearing (only Ford temporarily turning into one)... Now, I'm scared.
  • Coincidentally, there is a report documenting a rise in the rate of obesity among killer whales during the same time period.

    I'm just sayin'....
  • ... they've been eaten by the polar bears ;)
  • Penguins is SERIOUS! [] And you can buy a shirt [], too!

    I'm not associated with this comic at all, I just think it's hilarious.
  • They eat the same sorts of fish we eat, and we have literally stripped the seas of all edible fish. And I mean that literally. We are maybe ten years away from the fishing fleets having to be kept in port because there is nothing anywhere worth the cost of running them to catch it.

    The toothed whales will disappear too for the same reason.
  • ... and I see no evidence of diminishing penguin numbers.

    I rang a buddy of mine who works with them south of here. He said "WTF?"

"Never face facts; if you do, you'll never get up in the morning." -- Marlo Thomas