Nature log: penguin migration

This week:

An emperor penguin arrived on the North Island’s Peka Peka Beach, about 3,200 kilometres from the Antarctic coast. It was the first emperor spotted in the wild in New Zealand in 44 years. I’m wondering about the space inbetween. Is the penguin an accidental tourist? Did the penguin slowly warm up as it swam 3200 kilometres, eating fish which must have changed in the way local produce changes from island to island. When did it understand it had “arrived” somewhere unknown? Was it the scout, the first of many looking for new habitat as theirs slowly crumbles beneath them? At first the NZ Dept of Conservation treated it like a whale stranding – arguing that we should let nature take her course. Then the penguin was “named” – Happy Feet. At this moment the penguin was no longer one penguin, but was collective – ALL penguins. He became gendered and adopted, an animal now in need of human sympathy, love and a personal webcam. Bridie tells me that in the 1970s they shipped the previous Emperor penguin arrival down to the bottom of the South Island and dropped it back in the cooler southern ocean current. Currently Happy Feet is quarantined in an ice-box in Wellington Zoo, although local businessman Gareth Morgan has offered to pay half of the costs associated with his return to Antarctica.

Also this week:
About 150 turtles crawled on to the tarmac at New York’s Kennedy airport in search of beaches to lay their eggs, delaying dozens of flights, aviation authorities said. The slow-motion stampede began at about 6.45am local time and within three hours there were so many turtles on Runway 4L and nearby taxiways that controllers were forced to move departing flights to another runway.