Dr. Allender works with Franco to collect measurements on a penguin.

Day 6

Today we started out in the field very early. Our hope was to locate some new penguins in burrows that were empty yesterday. From Marco’s field data, we knew that some of these burrows were occupied and assumed that the penguins were out feeding yesterday. We were hoping to get into the field today before the birds left for the ocean to catch ‘breakfast’.

I’ve seen a lot of beautiful sunsets at PSJ, but not a lot of sunrises. We are generally up so late at night processing our samples that it’s hard to wake up that early. The area we were working today is also one of the few locations we can work at early in the morning. Hundreds of thousands of guanay cormorants and pelicans live at PSJ and occupy large areas of the reserve. Many of the beaches and bluffs are not accessible early in the morning without disturbing these colonies. Starting mid-morning many of these birds head out to the ocean to fish, allowing us to access the beaches and bluffs where we generally work with the penguins. Fortunately, our plan today worked well and we were able to locate 22 adult penguins today and several chicks.

Since we started early in the day, we also finished earlier than normal. We decided to all head into the town of Marcona for dinner. It was nice to spend a little time relaxing and have some fun with our Peruvian friends. We ate at a nice chicken rotisserie restaurant that just opened a few weeks ago. In the 4 years that I have been coming to PSJ, it’s amazing how much development there has been in Marcona. Marco tells me that in the past 10 years the population has doubled from 6,000 to 12,000 and the town continues to grow. It’s nice to see a better quality of life developing for the people in town, but with that development comes the concerns for the safety of the wildlife in the region. As human populations grow, there’s an encroachment on wildlife and more pollution. One of the big projects we started last year was to establish baseline data on the amount of environmental contamination and toxicant exposure that penguins at PSJ are exposed to. This data will help us monitor trends over time and ensure that the ecosystem is protected in the best ways possible. New development in the region includes a transcontinental highway from Brazil that will intersect the Panamerican highway about an hour from Marcona. There are also plans underway to develop a deep sea port at Marcona that could be used for gas and oil exportation. Both of these changes could have big impacts on the wildlife at PSJ.

Tomorrow we have plans to spend some time working on a new project focusing on aquatic invertebrates, which can provide great indications of ecosystem health. As development in the area continues, these animals may provide a great tool to expand our research and data.


Michael Adkesson, DVM, DACZM
Veterinarian - Chicago Zoological Society

June 12, 2010

Mike crawls into a burrow to catch one of the penguins with Marco’s help.

The 2010 “Field Team”

Day 1-June 7, 2010
Day 2-June 8, 2010
Day 3-June 9, 2010
Day 4-June 10 , 2010
Day 5-June 11 , 2010
Day 6-June 12, 2010
Day 7-June 13, 2010
Day 8-June 14, 2010