Thursday, August 18, 2005

Of Penguins and Polar Bears 

A couple of marine bio stories of note:

This has to be the funniest story of the day: A penguin at a zoo in Scotland reviewing visiting Norwegian troops. Story via the Scotsman.

HE is the most decorated animal at Edinburgh Zoo.

Now, Nils Olav, the city's most powerful penguin, is to receive yet another promotion from the Norwegian Army.

And as if that wasn't enough, the Scandinavian military machine is paying the ultimate homage to the feathery mascot by unveiling a statue in his honour.

The king penguin is shooting through the ranks at such a rate, he could one day even become general.

The latest promotion will see Nils sport a new three-starred Norwegian military badge on his wing.

Apparently, king penguins have been mascots of the Norweigen King's Guard regiment since they first visited the Edinburgh Zoo back in the Sixties. The video of the penguin reviewing the troops is here*.

*Unfortunately, the video is stuck in the wretched NBC FeedRoom, the place where local NBC news stations have their video clips. You have to use Internet Explorer. To get the video, click on "search" on the right side, enter "penguin" into the search field, and then click on the subsequent link that appears. Not very user friendly at all. Curse you Microsoft!

I'm sure there are some vetrans of the armed forces out there who would rather have served under that penguin than their CO.

Next, polar bears!

File this under how NOT to conduct a scientific research expedition:

Researchers Rescued From Polar Bears
By DOUG MELLGREN, Associated Press Writer Wed Aug 17,10:40 PM ET

OSLO, Norway - Three unarmed Polish researchers stranded on a remote Arctic island were rescued by helicopter as polar bears were closing in on them, officials said Wednesday.

Sheesh. Too bad their research didn't involve a quiet Tahitian beach instead. Oh well, since they are scientists, they're pretty smart. That came in handy for their survival:

Braaten said the ship repeatedly tried to send in another small boat to pick them up, but conditions were too rough. The ship finally used a harpoon canon to fire a rope to land, so it could send the researchers food and water. Then it called for help.

"They managed to start a fire, to keep warm and keep the polar bears away," he said, explaining that the men used the spark plugs from their capsized craft's outboard motor to get the fire going. The island has some dried grass and scrubby plants.

"It was a bit like MacGyver," Braaten said, referring to the adventure television series featuring a character who relies on science and his wits to solve problems.

The three men got away with minimal injuries, and were eventually flown back to a research base. No mention of if they are all set to go back out on the ice.

Via the Marine Biology International Yahoo! group.

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