Penguins are fascinating! Palmer Station has long-term data on penguin populations. Back in the 1970s, Bill Fraser started to keep track of the numbers of Adélie penguins. These are the charismatic tuxedo penguins. At some point, new species were sighted: the chinstrap and gentoo penguins - these are not the ice-dependent species like the Adélie penguins. Bill recorded the pivotal moment when chinstrap and gentoo penguins at Palmer Station started appearing. They now number in the thousands.
I took the photo below: a tiny colony of Adélie penguins. Most are juvenile penguins, recognized by their white chins. When Bill first started, Torgersen had many, many thousands of Adélie penguins. However, populations have plummeted to less than 15% of their original size. I described some of the reasons why on day 38.
I met Bill when he recently visited Palmer Station to do fieldwork. His work was featured in a book called Fraser’s Penguins. That book is what inspired my husband and I to visit Antarctica.
Thank you Bill - for being an inspiration and for the transformational science you have done at Palmer Station.