Fish 'n Chips

Penguins are not just useful for pulling in millions of dollars at the box office, we learned today. Apparently, they also come in quite handy as scientific researchers.

Researchers from Birmingham University are using king penguins to examine how over-fishing and global warming impact the ecosystem of the Southern Ocean. According to an article in the Independent,

King penguins inhabit the subAntarctic islands on the northern reaches of the Southern Ocean, where, during the Austral winter (our summer), they breed. Then, in the Southern summer, they embark on a lengthy diving expedition to find food for themselves and their chicks. This double life makes them ideal research recruits. Halsey says: "You can get to them easily on land, equip them cheaply with a data-logging chip, and off they go into the ocean, leading us to the fish. They are also large and numerous, so they have a significant role in the ecosystem - effects felt by them will be felt by everything else."


But just how do you train a penguin to count fish? Halsey's experiments are based on the theory that by measuring the energy king penguins spend hunting for their favourite food - the lanternfish - you can calculate how many of them there are: the harder penguins have to work to find food, the fewer fish there are likely to be.

And not only are they useful, they also sound like ideal field assistants—they don’t grumble, expect a per diem, or ask for days off.


Ever since I stuck Plenty on my google homepage, I've been enjoying making it part of my morning read. But your headlines are totally old-school (read: like the kind that appear in print) and don't provide your online readers with enough info to evaluate whether they should click through to the article they sit atop. E-mail me if you have no idea what I'm talking about... bottom line is, imagine what your titles look like in an RSS reader... "Fish 'n Chips"...? That could be anything.