@UCSD: An Alumni Publication

An Alumni Publication   Archive vol1no3 Contact
Up Front: Letters to and from the editor
Shelf Life: Books
Cliff Notes: Student life and sports
Class Notes: Alumni profiles
Looking Back: Thoughts on UCSD
Credits: Staff and Contributors
Interview with the Chancellor
RAE: A Poet Post-Pulitzer
Car Talk
Movie Maven
Campus Currents
Penguins in Peril
Boundless Birch
Flash Gordon
Stamp of Approval
As Smelled on TV
Toxic Colors
Bio-fuel Accelerator
Tissue Engineering
Name that Worm
3D Pyramid Scheme

Campus Currents May 2007: Volume 4, Number 2

Penguins in Peril

Penguins may star in Hollywood blockbusters as waddling comic relief, but in Antarctica their populations are struggling. Now members of a research team that includes a graduate student from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego believe they know why.

Based on 30 years of data and recent field expeditions, scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Southwest Fisheries Science Center and Scripps' Jefferson Hinke concluded that the recent drops in Antarctic chinstrap and Adélie penguins were due to climate change resulting in a reduction of sea ice, and a declining availability of their main food source—tiny crustaceans called krill—due to the recoveries of whale and seal populations.

For Hinke, the most interesting aspect of the research was the team's ability to use details of their focused studies in Antarctica's Admiralty Bay to make broader conclusions across the penguin habitat.

Hinke has participated in six expeditions to Antarctica, spending up to three months at a time in the field.

"The most rewarding aspect [of Antarctic field research] is the solitude and simplicity of life in a small field camp," says Hinke. "Being surrounded by glaciers, thousands of penguins and beautiful, icy seas doesn't hurt either."

—Mario C. Aguilera, '89