24 April 2015

World Penguin Day 2015

Base A Port Lockroy is a designated Historic Site under the Antarctic Treaty and is now a museum and post office managed by the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust (UKAHT). But, it is also known for its gentoo penguins, who return to the island every year to build pebble nests, lay their eggs and raise their chicks through to adulthood during the short Antarctic summer months. There were no penguins nesting on Goudier Island when it was open as a working base, and it is believed the gentoos first begun nesting on the island in 1985. There are currently approximately 550 mating pairs at Port Lockroy.

The gentoo have become an integral part of life at Port Lockroy, and the UKAHT, through it’s team on the ground, ensures that everything possible is done to minimise any tourism impact on them. 

Part of Goudier Island is cordoned off as a 'Penguin Control Colony' where visitors are not permitted. This allows the UKAHT team to monitor and compare the population size, distribution and breeding success of the 'control colony', who have very little contact with humans, with the other breeding penguins on the island, who are in close proximity both to the staff and visitors. Monitoring the penguins is carried out three times a year and the results are forwarded to the British Antarctic Survey. Evaluation of the statistics (records start in 1996) show that there has been no discernible impact from tourism on the gentoo penguins at Port Lockroy.

Other penguins are also frequent visitors to the island. In past years both king and emperor penguins have been seen on Goudier Island, and last season’s team reported that pairs and small groups of chinstrap and Adélie penguins were seen almost daily at Port Lockroy. More pictures of the Port Lockroy penguins can be found on our Facebook page.

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