Pilchard has long grown out of his fluffy down and now has nice waterproof feathers, perfect for swimming in the main Penguin Exhibit with other grown chicks his age! Keep in mind that we don't know if Pilchard is male or female, as young penguins have no obvious external gender differences. Results of a blood test will reveal the answer to that question in a couple of weeks.
Pilchards are a small schooling fish that are found in the cold nutrient rich waters off the the coast of South Africa and Namibia and comprise the main food source for wild African penguins. Pilchards are in the same family as sardines and herring. You may have read in this previous blog post that we offer similar types of fish to our penguins here at the Aquarium. The penguins at the Aquarium will always have enough to eat as we offer them food twice a day, everyday; but this is not the case for many penguin species in the wild.
Unfortunately African penguins are now endangered. The recent, rapid population decline of this population is partly the result of the loss of these fish from commercial over-fishing as well as shifts in prey populations possibly due to climate change. In short there are fewer fish in the water and the fish that remain are moving farther and farther away from the penguins’ breeding grounds. Learn how you can help minimize the effects of climate change and how your own seafood choices can help penguins and other animal.
You might recognize Pilchard from his (or her) small screen debut! Click here to see Pilchard on Fox 25. He or she has a temporary pink band on here, Pilchard's band has been updated to its permanent pink and black colors.
More than one person submitted "Pilchard," so the prize goes to the first entry. Congratulations to six year old Nicolai Crescenzi and his mother Cynthia of East Hempstead, New Hampshire; they have won a behind the scenes tour of the penguin chick raising area. Thanks to everyone who entered! It was wonderful to see so many dedicated penguin fans. Your names were very well researched, and we hope you will continue to stay in touch with the penguin department by leaving comments right here on the Penguin Blog as the biologists post photos and video of the penguin chicks growing up and entering the exhibit.