Student Spotlight

Student Spotlight: Penguins, by Andrew

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Penguins live in Antarctica. It’s very cold there, so they have to huddle together to stay warm. Penguins have to fish to survive. They eat mostly fish, krill, jellyfish, and squid. They have a very smart, interesting way of testing the water for predators. They push the first few penguins in and see what they do. If the water is safe, they dive in, too. But sometimes there are leopard seals in the water. If a leopard seal catches a penguin, he thrashes the bird around until its dead then picks off bits of meat until it’s mostly bone. But the penguins who survive in this incredibly dangerous place grow up into adults.

Adult penguins have a long, difficult challenge ahead of them. First they have to find a mate. They sing songs and show off their bodies until they find a mate. When they find a mate, they have intercourse and lay an egg. The dads have to watch the eggs while the moms cross the icy plains of the Antarctic to find the water. When most of the moms come back, they try to find their mates by singing to them. When the mom finds the dad, he is reluctant to give up his baby to the mom, but he needs food so he gives the baby to the mom. Then the dads go on their journey to find food.

The mother and father take turns watching over the baby and finding food for it. Eventually, the baby penguins are old enough to find food for themselves. When the penguins go try to find food for the first time, they start out in the shallows first, so no predators kill them and eat them. Some leopard seals though adopt a strategy. They make themselves look like boulders across the rocky coast. They slide slowly closer until the small penguins are an easy target. Sometimes a full grown leopard seal can grab two baby penguins at once.

But the penguins that do survive have to continue their hard life cycle until they grow up into adults. Then they have to find a mate and have more penguins and continue the same life cycle. What is the point of the penguins and why do the keep on going? No one can say for sure, but they are just so adorable, that makes it worth it.

By Andrew, age 10

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