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Antarctic News Archives - Living Organisms and Fossils

A collection of older (2003-2004) news items that relate to living organisms and fossils in Antarctica, the Southern Ocean and the Sub-antarctic islands. All links will take you to sites outside of the PRISM site. Use your back button to return.

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Living Organisms - 2004

  • Dec. 14, 2004 - Penguins Face Starvation Threat - BBC
    A huge iceberg blocks adult penguins' access to food for their chicks threatening the survival of thousands of chicks on Cape Royds.

  • Nov. 17, 2004 - Australia Gets Say On Whales - Australian
    Australia will bring legal action if necessary to protect Minke whales in an Antarctic sanctuary from Japanese whalers.

  • Nov. 15, 2004 - Does Life Exist In Antarctic Lake Buried Under Miles of Ice? - National Geographic
    Samples of bacteria raised from the bottom of Lake Vostok several years ago show diversity of physiology. These organisms also appear to be abundant, though not all scientists are convinced that the bacteria were not contaminants introduced by the drilling process.

  • Nov. 12, 2004 - Japanese Whalers Set Off On Antarctic Hunt - IOL
    Japanese whalers have departed on their mission to kill several hundred minke whales in what they call scientific research whaling. They contend that the whales have a negative effect on the number of other fish that can be caught in Antarctic waters and the herds need to be thinned.The whale meat from similar Japanese expeditions has ended up in restaurants and grocery stores in Japan.

  • Nov. 11, 2004 - Toothfish Pirates Reducing The Plunder.... - New Zealand Herald
    New data indicate that efforts to control illegal fishing for Patagonian and Antarctic toothfish has been relatively successful in the past year.

  • Nov. 8, 2004 - Seabirds Follow Their Noses To Partners - IOL
    The Antarctic prion, a seabird that mates for life, apparently can follow the scents of fellow prion and uses scent as a way to find its partner.

  • Nov. 4, 2004 - Food Shortages Threaten Antarctic Wildlife - Space Daily
    The krill population in the Southern Ocean is dramatically declining, probably due to changes in the extent and thickness of winter sea ice. This spells danger for whales, seals and penguins that depend on this food source. (Similar story from UK Times Online)

  • Oct. 19, 2004 - Japan Accused of Killing Australian Whales - WYTOP News
    An animal rights group claims that Japan has illegally killed hundreds of whales in an Australian whale sanctuary and has begun legal action for stopping such hunts. Japan says the whaling was done for research purposes.

  • Oct. 10, 2004 - Korean Scientists Discover 2 New Bacteria - Korea Times
    Two previously unknown gram-negative bacteria have been discovered by a Korean research team near King Sejong station.This group has been studying microbes in Antarctica for several years.

  • Oct. 9, 2004 - Ocean-roaming Birds Under Threat - New Zealand Herald
    Longline hooks set to catch fish in the Southern Ocean are causing the death of as many as 3000,000 ocean birds who are attracted to the bait on the hooks. Albatross, petrels, shearwaters, and frigate birds are particularly affected.

  • Oct. 9, 2004 - More Protection Urged For Rare Rare Chilean Sea Bass - Florida Museum of Natural History
    More protection for the Patagonian toothfish, which is currently overfished, but is being poached because of its market value, was urged at The Convention for International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).Most of the poaching of this "Chilean Sea Bass" occurs in the Southern Ocean.

  • Oct. 6, 2004 - Japan More Confident on CITES Whale Vote - Planet Ark
    Japan believes that this year they have enough to support to get the minke whale removed from The Convention for International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) endangered species list.

  • Sept 22, 2004 - Scientists Find Surprising Polar Life - MSNBC
    Microbe colonies have been found alive and healthy under rocks in the Canadian High Arctic and on Alexander Island in the Antarctic Peninsula. Most of the rocks in these regions harbor these microbes showing life can thrive under extreme conditions.

  • August 26, 2004 - Meet The Singing Whales of Sainte-Marie - IOL
    Migrating humpback whales congregate near Madagascar and are spawning a tourist industry there. Many local authorities want to encourage the tourism by protecting the whales, but there is also pressure to allow the whales to be hunted.

  • August 18, 2004 - Seal Populations To Be Monitored Under Recovery Plan - ABC
    Elephant seals and fur seals will be monitored more closely by the Australian government in an attempt to improve population numbers.

  • August 6, 2004 - Australia, NZ, USA Allied To Fight Illegal Fishing - Scoop
    Australia wants a centralized vessel monitoring system to fight illegal fishing and has gotten the support of New Zealand and the United States for the effort.

  • August 1, 2004 - Egg-sperts Tune In To African Penguins - IOL
    Researchers have used plastic eggs with radio transmitters inside to determine how tourism affects African penguins. The eggs allowed the researchers to monitor the penguins' response to humans approaching the nesting site. They plan to do a similar study on penguins on Marion Island, near Antarctica. (Map with Marion Island in the upper right. Take the link in the left-hand navigation area to see photos of the island).

  • July 29, 2004 - Antarctic Research Ship Guns For Fish Poachers - ABC
    The Aurora Australis (featured in PRISM's "Bears On Ice" section ) is being rigged with machine guns to help deter poaching of protected fish in Southern Ocean.

  • July 25, 2004 - Watchers Report Record Whale Season - ABC
    Whale watchers in Australia reported seeing over 1000 whales migrating from Antarctica over the past two months. Most were humpback whales but some minke were also spotted.

  • July 24, 2004 - Kamei Blasts IWC For Its Rigidity - Japan Times
    The Japanese Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, lashed out at the International Whaling Commission for their rejection of several proposed measures to allow commercial whaling. One of the rejected proposals was to abolish a whale sanctuary near Antarctica.

  • July 15,2004 - What's Scientific About Scientific Whaling? - Guardian Unlimited
    While conservation groups decry Japanese scientific whaling as a commercial venture in disguise, scientists from the Institute of Cetacean Research in Tokyo says it is about obtaining data that improves the management of whales and promotes an understanding of their role in the ecosystem.

  • July 15, 2004 - "Crocodile Hunter" Cleared of Charges - AustralianFauna
    The Australian Government has cleared Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter, of charges that he had harassed penguins, seals and a whale in Antarctic waters.

  • July 14, 2004 - Cook's Petrel Expected To Thrive - Scoop NZ
    Ridding Little Barrier Island of rats should ensure the survival of a bird, Cook's petrel,that nests in this New Zealand nature reserve. The rats have been poisoned to protect the chicks and eggs.

  • June 17, 2004 - Vanishing Penguin Chicks Raise Conservationists' Fears - New Zealand Herald
    Almost all the yellow-eyed penguin chicks located on sub-Antarctic Stewart Island have died and it is believed that they starved to death.

  • June 14, 2004 - Croc Star's "Whale Swim" Probed - BBC
    Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter, is being investigated after it was reported that he was riding whales as part of a documentary film. Australian law prohibits close contact with Antarctic wildlife. He denies the allegations.

  • May 19, 2004 - Banding Hurts Penguins ... - CNN
    Metal ID bands that have been attached to penguin flippers to aid in the study of penguin breeding and migration patterns seem to adversely affect the birds' ability to swim and fish. A study showed that banded birds arrived at the breeding grounds later than unbanded birds. (Similar story from NewScientist.)

  • May 10, 2004 - Penguins Ingest Mollusk Shells To Obtain Calcium for Thicker Eggshells - University of Washington
    Magellanic penguins in the penguin reserve at Punta Tombo, Argentina were studied to determine what factors affected their eggs. They found that females were much more likely to have mollusk shells in their diet around egg-laying time and have postulated that this provides a slow calcium release that makes the shells stronger.

  • May 8, 2004 - Japan's Whale Hunters Fight The Good Fight - Taipei Times
    Japan says the international community should stop hassling them about their whale hunts.They announced they plan to continue their hunts which are undertaken as an ongoing research study and that those who oppose whaling need to back down.The whalers believe the data don't support the ban.

  • April 20, 2004 - Marine Researchers Fertilize Southern Ocean ... - Science Daily
    Scientists have been fertilizing the Southern Ocean by adding iron to determine the effect of such interventions on phytoplankton. Increasing numbers of phytoplankton can help remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

  • April 16, 2004 - Antarctic Fish Set To Survive In Warmer Seas - New Zealand Herald
    Study of the Antarctic toothfish, Pagothenia borchgrevinki, showed that it was able to swim long distances in water 9 degrees warmer than current conditions.

  • April 16, 2004 - Penguins Survive Better With Visitors - New Zealand Herald
    Scientists have come to the surprising conclusion that baby penguins survive better in rookeries disturbed by humans than in more isolated rookeries. It is thought that humans may disturb predators more than penguins.

  • April 8 , 2004 - Court Decision Allows More Sea Lion Killing - Scoop
    Squid fisherman in New Zealand won a court battle in the Appeals court that will allow them to double the number of sea lions allowed to be drowned in their nets (124 instead of the 62 agreed on in March). This was done in spite of the NZ sea lion being a threatened species that suffered serious population losses due to disease last year.

  • Mar. 31, 2004 - Albatross Protection Plan Leaves Much In The Air - Scoop
    A National Plan of Action for Seabirds has been released in New Zealand to try to decrease the number of seabird deaths caused by entanglement in fishing nets, but the plan is strictly voluntary.

  • Mar. 30, 2004 - Antarctic Fish May Aid Cardiac Research - Newswise
    The Antarctic cod is able to withstand frigid temperatures by lowering its heart rate and through "antifreeze" in its blood. Researchers hope that learning more about this creature's physiology will help make advances in heart surgery and in treatment of hypothermia.

  • Mar. 24, 2004 - Penguin Cameras Reveal Dive Buddies - NewScientist
    Miniature cameras mounted on penguins' backs have enabled scientists to view the birds' underwater behavior for the first time. Additional photos from the BBC.

  • Mar. 13, 2004 - Kemp Defends Toothfish Poaching Efforts - STH Australia
    New Zealand's Environmental minister, David Kemp, defended his agency saying they had stepped up efforts to stop poaching of the Patagonian toothfish in Australian waters. He cited several examples of the efforts being made by his agency.

  • Mar. 5, 2004 - Ruling in Favor of Sealions - New Zealand Herald
    The endangered New Zealand sealion which breeds in sub-Antarctic islands has been threatened by squid fishermen, whose nets capture and drown the sealions. The NZ High Court has ruled that a seasonal limit of 62 sealions will continue to be enforced.

  • March 1 , 2004 - New Dinosaur Species Dug Up in Antarctica - Science A GoGo
    One week after a new dinosaur species was identified on a mountain near the Beardmore glacier, another fossilized dinosaur has been located thousands of miles away, in a sea bed. Researchers working off Ross Island believe they have located a new species of carnivorous dinosaur. More on this topic from Science Daily.

  • Feb. 14, 2004 -Ocean 'Road" Safety Key to Survival - Guardian Unlimited
    Marine scientists believe there is a need for mobile marine sanctuaries for several marine creatures. The problem with static reserves is that the environment moves with the current, so the animals travel to keep in optimum habitat. This exposes them to areas where commercial fishing is intensive.

  • Feb. 11, 2004 - Penguin Bones ... Rewrite Bird's Evolution - North Carolina State
    Fossils found in Argentina appear to be those of a penguin that probably lived 20 million years ago in the Eocene Epoch.

  • Feb. 6, 2004 - Antarctic Fossils Shed New Light On Dinosaurs - Seattle Times
    A 200-million-year-old fossil has been found on the side of Mount Kirkpatrick, about 400 miles from the South Pole. At this point, the scientists think it may be an early species of sauropod. The fossil will be flown to the US before spring for further analysis.

  • Feb. 2, 2004 - Antarctic Resources At Risk - BBC News
    Life forms, especially microbes, in Antarctic regions are being ruthlessly hunted and harvested in order to profit from them. The possible value of these life forms for new genetic manipulation and in pharmaceutical research has the international community worrying about the environmental consequences of this largely unregulated "bioprospecting". (Similar story at

  • Jan. 30, 2004 - Penguin Ranch Reveals Hunting, Swimming Secrets - National Geographic
    A crittercam has been used to shed light on the natural behavior of a colony Emperor penguins on Ross Island. It shows that they can catch several fish on a very deep dive. An explanation of why this is possible is offered.

  • Jan. 21, 2004 - Australian Fishing Crew Accused of Killing Whale... - NZ Herald
    Authorities are looking into the report that an Australian vessel killed and ate a whale while the animal was in protected waters near New Zealand. The type of whale was not known when the report was made.

  • Jan. 7, 2004 - Hot and Cold Penguins - NZ Herald
    Global warming appears to be a factor in changes in the location of Adelie penguin colonies. Over the past twenty years, many more penguins have resided at Cape Royds and have begun to occupy a colony at Cape Barne which had not been used for centuries. It appears that the loosening of the pack ice has made it easier for the penguins to travel.

Living Organisms - 2003

  • Dec. 8, 2003 - Abandoned Penguin Colonies May Refine Antarctic Climate Studies - NSF
    About 2000 years ago, a cooling trend apparently built up so much ice in the Ross Sea that Adelie penguins abandoned their colonies in that area. Radiocarbon data from abandoned colonies suggest that the current ice-free condition of the area only began about 1000 years ago, and penguin recolonization about 500 years ago.

  • Nov. 24, 2003 - Sea Urchins Pay Price for Ozone Gap - New Zealand Herald
    Scientists from Otago University confirmed that there was much higher ratio of harmful UV light to visible light under the sea ice this year than last. It is believed that this may negatively impact marine creatures such as sea urchins.

  • Nov. 23, 2003 - Bare Hooks Lure Tiny Fish... - Antarctic Sun
    Scientists from Creighton University School of Medicine are studying tiny fish (Trematomus bernacchii) to see how the species removes salt from the water they drink.

  • Nov. 21, 2003 - Iceberg Collapse Saves Penguin Colonies - New Zealand Herald
    Breakup of the B-15 iceberg has made it possible for nesting pairs of Adelie penguins to more easily reach food. This may increase survival rates in a colony where breeding rates have been negatively affected by extensive sea ice.

  • Nov. 7, 2003 - Whaling Ships Head for Antarctic - CNN
    Japan has sent out 5 whaling ships to catch up to 410 minke whales for research purposes.

  • Oct. 7, 2003 - Antarctic Penguins Thrive in Ocean "Oases" - NASA
    Satellite studies indicate that the health of Adelie penguin populations are highly related to the productivity of plankton in open water "oases" called "polynea".

  • Oct. 1, 2003 - "Garden of Eden" Lost in Iceberg Explosion - New Zealand News
    Divers located a veritable "Garden of Eden" of sea creatures under an iceberg off Scott Base, but then watched as the iceberg exploded and destroyed the fragile ecosystem.

  • September 8, 2003 - Australia Holding Uruguayan Official In Illegal Antarctic Fishing Case - USA Today
    A Uruguayan fisheries official, who was on a boat suspected of poaching Patagonian toothfish (Chilean Sea Bass) in Antarctic waters, has been detained by Australian authorities.(See earlier story in USA Today)

  • July 11, 2003 - Pesticide Residue Found in Bird Droppings..-
    Chinese scientists have found high levels of organochlorines in the bird droppings collected from King George Island, an island close to the Antarctic peninsula.

  • July 11, 2003 - Moby, the White Whale Spotted... - Planet Ark
    A rare white humpback whale has been sighted off Australia's coast. Humpback whales breed in Antarctic waters then migrate to waters off the east coast of Australia.

  • June 19, 2003 - Science Seeks Clues to Pygmy Whale - BBC
    Getting an accurate count of the number of pygmy blue whales is quite challenging due to its similarities to the true blue whale.

  • June 17, 2003 - Blue Whales Show Gradual Growth - BBC
    The population of Blue Whales in the Antarctic may be three times what it was 25 years ago, due to conservation efforts undertaken since the 1960s.

  • May 28, 2003 - Plague Of Rats On Sub-Antarctic Island Ends - ABC News
    More than 200,000 Norway rats were pillaging Campbell Island. The rats were introduced by whalers and have thrived on the uninhabited island. A poisoning campaign was begun last year to try to save native species.

  • May 10, 2003 - Ancient Fly Found At South Pole - CNN
    A geologist has found the fossil of a fly 300 miles from the South Pole.This fly may have been part of the animal life on the mega-continent Gondwana. (More from Nature).

  • April 2, 2003 - Super Squid Surfaces in Antarctic - BBC News
    Scientists have found a squid even bigger than the giant squid, and it looks like it is even meaner.

  • February 26, 2003 - Antarctic Desert Rich with Insights... - National Geographic News
    McMurdo Dry Valleys are providing scientists with a clear look into "life on the edge" - organisms that function on the edge of survivable conditions.

  • Feb. 19, 2003 - Fresh Secret of Penguin Dads Revealed -
    Male penguins are able to keep undigested food in their stomachs for long periods. It has just been discovered that they keep the food fresh by inhibiting bacterial action in their stomachs. This allows them to feed their young while "babysitting".

  • Jan. 30,2003 - Elephant Seals Are Long Distance Lovers -
    Male elephant seals travel extraordinary distances in the Antarctic seas during the breeding season, whereas the females are less prone to roam. This may cause more uniformity in the gene pool, especially if the population is small.

  • Dec. 30, 2002 - Icebreaker May Save Penguins From Starvation - Independent Online (IOL)
    The U.S. icebreaker, Polar Star, is attempting to carve a channel in the Ross Sea which will hopefully help adult Adelie penguins stranded at Cape Royds.


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