Monday, January 31, 2011

Penguin Pals: Montague

This is Montague; he is a little blue penguin with a green and white bracelet on his left wing. He was born here at the Aquarium on April 7, 2008.


He is named after Montague Island, which is located off the south coast of New South Wales, Australia.

View Larger Map

Montague Island has a large population of little blue penguins because it is free of introduced predators like feral cats or foxes. But there is an introduced plant that is effecting the little blue breeding population on this island. Kikuyu grass is a dense grass that was introduced to the island in the early 1900's as livestock feed.

Kikuyu grass, credit: Forest and Kim Starr via Wikipedia

This grass is so dense that it forms a mat which burrow nesting birds, like little blue penguins and shearwaters, can not penetrate to get to their nest burrows. Those that do penetrate the kikuyu often become entangled and die. A Seabird Habitat and Restoration Program has proved highly successful in controlling and reducing the spread of kikuyu grass and restoring degraded seabird habitat on the Island.

Montague spends most of the day swimming in the exhibit. If you can't find him in the exhibit he is probably hiding under one of the penguin islands.

- Andrea

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Guest Post: Let's learn about penguins!

The Aquarium's Education Department offers many different ways for kids to learn about marine animals—like penguins! In this special special guest post from Education programs coordinator Kara Mahoney Robinson, we learn about two penguin-themed programs available through the Aquarium's Education Department.

We offer many programs for schools, including two very special programs about penguins—the Rockhopper Hop and the Penguin Program. Teachers and groups leaders often book these programs in the colder winter months when many schools are studying polar regions and the animals that live there. Both these programs are geared towards providing students with a fun interactive way to learn about penguins.

Rockhopper Hop program

The Rockhopper Hop is a high energy, assembly-style program that takes place at a school or community center. It is packed full of fun activities and penguin facts as students work to turn an Aquarium educator into a giant rockhopper penguin! Before the program, a kit is sent out to the school that contains books, activities and a mask-making activity. This program is most appropriate for grades K through 5 and can only take place at a school or community center as an outreach program.

The Penguin Program is an engaging and interactive experience for students.

Our Penguin Program focuses on penguin habitats throughout the world and also on their behaviors. During this program students learn both the penguin behaviors as well as how scientists gather data on these special birds. The fun comes when the students actually act out these two roles. Students love both acting like penguins as well as taking data on what behaviors their fellow "penguin" classmates are displaying. Together, the class graphs the data that the student "scientists" gathered. A final treat for the students is an up-close look at a taxidermied penguin! This program is most appropriate for grades 1 through 5 and can take place at a school, community center as an outreach program, or added on to an Aquarium visit as an Explorer Class.

Students participate in a lesson about the four species of penguin found at the Aquarium (with the help of some adorable plush toys!)—African, little blue and northern and southern rockhopper penguins.

If you are interested in any of the above programs please visit the Education department's website or email us with any questions.

- Kara