10 Feb 2011

Emperor Penguins

From Our Changing World, 9:46 pm on 10 February 2011

Emperor Penguins

Antarctic veteran Gerald Kooyman and Our Changing World producer Alison Ballance en route to AntarcticaWhen Alison Ballance made her first trip to Antarctica at the end of last year, she got two pleasant surprises at Christchurch Airport. One, instead of the noisy C17 Globemaster she was expecting to travel on, there was an Airbus sitting on the runway. And two, she managed to score a seat in Business Class (right), sitting next to a veritable Antarctic veteran, Gerald Kooyman from the Center for Marine Biotechnology and Biomedicine Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego.

On finding out that he was heading straight out to a remote field camp, she decided she'd better interview him then and there about his more-than 30 year research into the diving physiology of emperor penguins. Emperors are the largest of all penguins, made famous, of course, in the movie March of the Penguins.

Gerald Kooyman believes that Emperor penguins in particular are "excellent biological indicators of environmental change in a region that has powerful influence on the world's weather." He is one of many scientific supporters of the Last Ocean Campaign, which is advocating the creation of a marine protected area in the Ross Sea.