Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Slick birds are wearing wool

22.01.2002


Knitted pullovers protect penguins from oil discharge


Pullovers are in this season for Phillip Island penguins.
© Penguin parade


Penguins on parade: normally the birds show off their natural good looks every night.
© Penguin parade



Knitters around the world have pulled together to save thousands of oil-soaked little penguins on Phillip Island, southern Australia.

Ten thousand penguin-sized, pure-wool jumpers have flooded into the offices of the Tasmanian Conservation Trust in response to their call for emergency insulation for a vulnerable population of world’s smallest penguins - sometimes known as fairy penguins.


In mid-December 2001 a crude slick from an illegal discharge washed into the bird’s shoreline rookeries. The oil threatened the breeding stock, clogging their waterproof insulating feathers, and preventing them making daily mid-ocean forays in search of food.

Conservation workers moved fast to save the birds from starvation, hypothermia and oil poisoning. To protect and rehabilitate the tiny penguins after they’d been caught and washed, researchers hit upon a plan to harness the efficient insulating properties of wool, and tap into the enthusiasm of the local community.

They published a plea and a knitting pattern for penguin jumpers in the Aged Pension News, a free newspaper circulated to elderly Australians.

When the story was picked up by BBC radio, the plight of the penguins became international. Jumpers started arriving from around the world, in all colours and fashions including local football team strips. Demand has now been more than met, and the small sweaters are being stockpiled in future ’oil spill response kits’.

The tight-fitting woollens provide ideal temporary protection for the birds until their diving feathers regain their natural condition. Like feathers, wool fibres are made of keratins and amino acids, and are extremely efficient natural insulators. The fibres’ tight crimp and natural oils make them water repellent. Yet they are also warming when wet thanks to their heat-producing chemical reactions with moisture.

Before having fashions to flaunt, Phillip Island’s endangered population of little penguins was a renowned tourist attraction for its nightly parade of a different kind. After dusk, hundreds of penguins returning from daily fishing trips gather on the beach and waddle en masse to their burrows in sand dunes.

JAMES PORTEOUS | © Nature News Service

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Dune ecosystem modelling
23.06.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht Understanding animal social networks can aid wildlife conservation
23.06.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>