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Morning photo: Penguin portraits

Some of our favorite feathered friends …

Bathing beauties. Gentoo penguins on Deception Island.

SUMMIT COUNTY — Some might call it a shameless quest for page views but I’m going to call it fine art photography, even though there’s no doubt that penguin pictures to help drive web traffic. There’s no denying — they are cute little critters, and despite being so cuddly and loveable, they manage to survive and even thrive in an incredibly harsh environment. Their environment is, of course, one of the most threatened by climate change, as temperatures across parts of Antarctica are warming at double the rate of the global average. Continue reading

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Morning photo: for the birds

On the wing …

A pelican strikes a classic pose during a Florida sunset.

SUMMIT COUNTY — The annual Christmas bird count is under way, involving thousands of people in one of the largest citizen science projects in the country. Counting birds in the same areas during the same time from year to year helps establish good baseline information on bird populations. Read a bit more about it in this Summit Voice story, and browse through the bird snapshots in the daily photo essay. And if you want to see some really good bird photography, visit On The Wing Photography. Continue reading

Global warming: Penguin declines a ‘smoking gun’

Warming temps, loss of sea ice linked to sharp drop in penguin numbers

Gentoo penguins face a dwindling food supply due to a loss of sea ice and competition for krill.

Decline in chinstrap penguin populations have been linked to global warming.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Populations of two penguin species living in western Antarctica are declining rapidly, most likely because the loss of sea ice is reducing the abundance of krill, their primary food source, as well as competition from whales and the pressure of commercial krill fishing.

The number of both Adelies and chinstrap penguins has dropped by half since the 1980s. In that same span, mean winter air temperatures in the region have climbed by up to 10 degrees, leading to a huge loss of sea ice.

A new study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Scripps Institute of Oceanography  suggests the drop in penguin populations is directly tied to drop in krill, which, in turn, is linked to the loss of sea ice. Continue reading

Morning photo: Penguin power!

The ice birds of Antarctica

A chinstrap penguin surveys its ice flow in the Weddell Sea.

SUMMIT COUNTY — You had to know it was coming sometime. I’m actually surprised I was able to resist posting a penguin photoblog for as long as I have. They’re so cute and photogenic, as well as incredibly tame, so you don’t even have to have any special wildlife photography skills to photograph them. But I have an ulterior motive, or two of them, actually. I’m hoping these birds are cute enough to drive a record number of page views to a single post — call it a social media experiment. Continue reading

Morning photo: Critters

Let’s work together to protect the Earth’s biodiversity

An ant takes shelter from the sprinkler drops under an open blossom at the Berrt Ford Alpine Gardens in Vail, Colorado. Click on the image to see a story about the gardens. This was the first day that I started to discover the fine macro capabilities of my point-and-shoot Fuji Finepix compact digital camera.

SUMMIT COUNTY — A short riff through the digital archives uncovered a few decent images of wildlife, including some of the amazing creatures that make their home in Antarctica, one of the most inhospitable environments on the planet. Plus, penguins are just so darn cute! All these images are for sale at the Summit Voice online Imagekind gallery. More pics after the break … Continue reading

Morning photo: End of the Earth

Land of ice

An ice arch in the Weddell Sea near the Antarctic Peninsula, where global warming has hit fast and hard. Some ice shelves on the west side of the peninsula have already collapsed, while several penguin species are scrambling for habitat. Click on the image to learn more about global warming in the Antarctic Peninsula.

SUMMIT COUNTY — Last year, Leigh and I had the good fortune of traveling to Antarctica for a first-hand encounter with fuzzy penguins and the very real impacts of global warming. Since the Antarctic research season is just getting started, I wanted to post a few pictures and links. One of the best places to keep up with the latest research is the Antarctic Sun, the daily paper published by the U.S. Antarctic Program. Most of the pictures in this photoblog also lead to portals for information about some of the environmental issues facing the frozen continent. Continue reading

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