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 Conservationists are sounding the alarm: parrots much more threatened than assumed
15.09.2017 | Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen

nachricht A new indicator for marine ecosystem changes: the diatom/dinoflagellate index
21.08.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Ostseeforschung Warnemünde

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: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

Im Focus: Fast, convenient & standardized: New lab innovation for automated tissue engineering & drug

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems Holding GmbH about commercial use of a multi-well tissue plate for automated and reliable tissue engineering & drug testing.

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems...

Im Focus: Silencing bacteria

HZI researchers pave the way for new agents that render hospital pathogens mute

Pathogenic bacteria are becoming resistant to common antibiotics to an ever increasing degree. One of the most difficult germs is Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a...

Im Focus: Artificial Enzymes for Hydrogen Conversion

Scientists from the MPI for Chemical Energy Conversion report in the first issue of the new journal JOULE.

Cell Press has just released the first issue of Joule, a new journal dedicated to sustainable energy research. In this issue James Birrell, Olaf Rüdiger,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

New quantum phenomena in graphene superlattices

19.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A simple additive to improve film quality

19.09.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>