New England Aquarium introduces Pilchard
Bypassing the current popularity of American baby names such as Jacob and Isabella, New England Aquarium penguin biologists have named their newest penguin chick “PILCHARD”!
One thousand six hundred and sixty-four people entered the Aquarium’s on-line naming contest over the past two weeks, and surprisingly five different entries suggested Pilchard. What is the secret behind the popularity of that rather Victorian sounding name? Food, of course!
Contestants were asked to choose a name that would teach the public something about penguins. Pilchard is another name for sardine which is the main food source for African penguins. This past summer, African penguins have been declared endangered due to a precipitous population decline over the past decade. Much of that drop is believed to be linked to the loss of pilchards and other food sources due to commercial overfishing and shifting of sardine schools further away from the African coast, possibly due to climate change.
Pilchard is now on exhibit along with the Aquarium’s more than 90 other penguins.
Aquarium staff do not yet know if Pilchard is a boy or a girl as young penguins have no obvious external gender differences. Results of a blood test will reveal the answer to that question in a couple of weeks.