Celebrate World Penguin Day!

April 25 is World Penguin Day, marking the time when many of these birds begin their annual migration northward.  (As a reminder, penguins do not fly.  They migrate the old-fashioned way, by walking… or waddling.)

Here are some fun facts about penguins, courtesy of Mental Floss:

  • There are 17 different penguin species. Other than the Galapagos Penguin, they exclusively inhabit the Southern Hemisphere.
  • Penguin can range in height from 10 inches to nearly four feet tall. They range in weight from 2 lbs. to 90 lbs.
  • Penguins’ black and white coloring provides them with camouflage while swimming underwater. When viewed from above, their black backs blend in with the dark ocean depths.  When viewed from below, their white bellies blend in with the bright surface of the water.
  • Some penguins get rid of the salt from ingested seawater by sneezing it out.
  • In many penguin species, the male cares for the eggs while the female goes out hunting.

Scientists have used Agilent technologies and solutions to study penguins and their habitats.

Researchers in Argentina used an Agilent ICP-MS to measure trace metal accumulation in Adélie penguin chicks, resulting from ecotoxicological pollutants in the Antarctic ecosystem.  A separate Australian study using an Agilent GC-MS found that the Adélie penguin habitat has a much higher concentration of persistent organic pollutants. POPs were 10 to 100 times more prevalent, due to the non-migratory nature of Adélies and the resulting build-up of guano and carcasses.

Italian researchers used an Agilent HPLC to discover trace levels of perfluorinated compounds(PFCs) in Gentoo penguin eggs.  Similarly, Belgian researchers used an Agilent GC-MS to measure the presence of organohalogenated contaminants (OHCs) in Rockhopper penguin eggs.  Sadly, this indicates that environmental contaminants are being passed from penguins to their offspring.

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