Save the Penguins: No more Banding


Sometimes I come across a story where I find myself taking up an unexpected cause.  The battle over the use of ethanol is one, but the damage that climate researchers and biologists studying penguins is a new one to me.  I was simply using this story as an example of scientific bias.  The basics are that the use of tracking bands are causing penguins to die earlier and have less chicks during their lifetime.  Since there is an alternative to the use of flipper bands on penguins, it seemed like an open and closed case that scientists would stop using these tracking bands.

Sadly that is not the case.  When I was reading this story that has details about the simple tracking bands, I found the following quotes from Professor P. Dee Boersma :

“Their study shows that the bands they used on King penguins were a problem,” 

“You don’t want to say all flipper bands are terrible because the evidence is not there.”

She is saying that even though one study showed problems with tracking bands on penguins, she is going to continue using the bands because she doesn’t think they cause enough of a difference in the penguins she is studying.  Her only basis is a study showing that male penguins were not impacted by the use of bands.  The same study she is referring to showed that female penguins were impacted by the use of bands.

Other scientists like like Norman Ratcliffe of the British Antarctic Survey, Dr. Rory P. Wilson of Swansea University in Britain agree that the use of tracking bands is unacceptable due to the impact they have on both the survival rate and the decreased reproduction rates of penguins.

The Inconvenient Skeptic

Save the Penguins: No more banding!!!

The new study gave very alarming results for the impact that the bands have on the King Penguins.  The survival rates were fairly significant after 10 year.  Only 10 out of the 50 banded penguins survived after 10 years compared to 18 that didn’t have the band.  Almost twice as many non-banded penguins survived.  Even more significant was in the number of chicks the penguins had.  The banded penguins had 47 chicks over the course of 10 years.  That un-banded penguins had 80 chicks.  That is 33 less penguin chicks as a result of the banding process.

Dr. Boersma responded to the DailyTech were she referred to her own study of smaller penguins that showed band design made a difference in survival rate.  She says her own study showed that males were not affected by the use of bands, but the females were.  She concludes that even though female penguin survival rates were lower with bands, that the number of chicks in the next generation was not impacted.  I am very curious as the science that allows a lower female survival rate to not reduce the total number of chicks that are born to the next generation.  She carefully avoids saying that though by stating that the surviving females had the same success rate at mating.  So to her the fact that since the lesser number of females were able to mate, it is ok to cause less female penguins to survive.

In a follow up statement Professor Wilson wrote:

“Given the detriment caused by flipper bands, there would have to be really compelling reasons to continue with flipper banding!! Not so with transponders, for example.”

Scientists have a responsibility to the creatures that they study.  It is irresponsible for any scientist to use flipper bands when it has been shown that it does cause harm to the future generations of penguins.  Dr. Boersma’s own study showed that female survival rates were diminished.  The end result of both studies is that less penguins are born in the next generation.  The use of external bands on the penguins needs to be stopped.  Since internal transponders can be used, there is no reason to continue with the use of external bands on penguins.

Since Dr. Boersma’s email is publicly displayed, I will also display it (boersma@u.washington.edu).  So you can let her know that flipper bands should not be used on penguins.

Posted in Causes by inconvenientskeptic on January 24th, 2011 at 2:05 am.

2 comments

This post has 2 comments

  1. Richard111 Jan 24th 2011

    John, I don’t know if you have heard of the forth coming airlift of fish from Cumbria to the Scottish Lochs to save them from global warming (I kid you not!).

    http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change/fish-threatened-by-global-warming-to-be-moved-north-2192001.html

    I am just waiting till some bright warmist decides to move polar bears to the Antarctic.

  2. Jim Barker Jan 24th 2011

    Moving the polar bears to the Antarctic was proposed on some web-site, supposedly because there were plenty of penquins to eat. Hopefully the suggestion was sarcastic.

    put a link to your post on my facebook page.

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