Wednesday, December 29, 2010
The start of Icebar Orlando was a fascination for the Florida and California natives with the land of ice and snow. Our partner, Wylie is back in Antarctica for another round of chilling adventures. Here are some of his photos, and the link above takes you to the webcam of the US Government research facility Palmer Station, manned in the summer by scientists and interns to study the area.
A view of the ship in the background, getting ashore is by zodiac, and sitting on the side in the water is COLD!
Rockhopper penguin and her baby, or it could be His baby, they take turns getting food and keeping the chick warm.
They are little guys, but the do eat a LOT of fish, and they smell, well, pretty fishy.
This is south of where our adopted penguin lives, Ice Ice Baby is a couple of hundred miles north of this location.
Inside the arctic circle it is the most hostile environment on earth, the weather changes very quickly. This looks lovely, but yesterday it was 60 mph winds and chill factor in the minus degrees.
Take care Wylie, we have a cold one waiting in sunny (relatively speaking) Florida.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Dear Icebar Orlando
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from Ice Ice Baby, and all of us here on Magdalena Island in Chile. Egg losses here have been high this year, due to the continuation of the drought which is now entering its second year.
For more than a year Magdalena Island has been in the grip of a fierce drought which has killed off virtually all the grass. The loss of most of the grass means that loose soil is now being blown across the island day after day by the strong Patagonian winds, and the penguin burrows gradually get buried by the loose sandy soil. With winds of up to 140 km per hour, burrows can disappear completely during a single night, and in some areas, the situation is so bad that small sand dunes have formed where penguin burrows used to be.
The adult penguins don't get trapped, because they are able to dig themselves out, but the nest becomes abandoned when that happens. The adopted penguins like Ice Ice Baby are truly fortunate in being visited and protected on a regular basis during the current conditions.
Regular visits to each of our adopted penguins means that we are able to clear away the accumulating soil each time we visit the nest, but only a few hundred burrows are actually marked as adopted penguins. Magdalena Island as a whole had around 65,000 nests at the start of the season, and there is no way that a handful of people can regularly visit more than a few hundred burrows. Indeed, we have been trying to expand our adoption programme this season, so as to be able to do more on Magdalena Island during this drought.
It is not just the man-power required either. Adopted penguins have their nests marked with 24" aluminium poles bearing the name chosen by the adoptees, such as yourself. Preparing and locating the poles is a lengthy process, but in addition to enabling us to identify each penguin, these poles allow us to find burrows even if they have been buried by drifting sand and soil. Without such markers to show the location of the burrows, it is not even possible for us to know where the burrows were prior to being covered, making rescue impossible, even if we did have enough manpower to visit all the non-adopted burrows.
But with regular monitoring to keep the burrows free of soil, and markers to locate the burrows if they become buried, our adopted penguins have still fared well. The eggs have hatched, and the nest belonging to Ice Ice Baby now contains two small chicks.
Now that the chicks have hatched, they are at the most vulnerable time of their lives. Just like human babies, penguin babies are unable to move around by themselves, and depend entirely on Ice Ice Baby for warmth, protection and food.
Chicks as small as this are unable to produce their own body heat, so they have to be kept warm by Ice Ice Baby lying over them, just like with the eggs. However there are dangers involved with this. Whilst the eggs are round and protected by a hard shell, making them difficult to stand on, the chicks are not. It is quite common for penguin parents to accidentally stand on their chicks whilst squabbling with a neighbour, or defending the nest from a predator. It can occasionally be like having a small baby lying on the floor in a very small boxing ring, whilst the boxers are too involved in the fight to think about where the baby is.
The parents also remain in the nest with the eggs and small chicks for such long periods of time, without food because their food is at sea, that they spend much of the time dozing to save energy. They are sufficiently alert to awake if a neighbour or predator gets too close to the nest, but sometimes fail to notice if a chick has rolled away from the centre of the nest, leaving it exposed to the cold. Being unable to move around themselves, the chicks are unable to save themselves when that happens, and rely entirely on the vigilance of the parents.
But the chicks grow very rapidly, and within 10 to 15 days they have changed considerably. Firstly, they have developed the ability to walk, which enables them to get out of the way of their parents' feet to avoid being stood on, and enables them to seek warmth and protection underneath the parent whenever they feel the need. Secondly, the chicks are now able to produce their own body warmth, which means they no longer rely on the parents for warmth. Finally, the chicks are now much more robust, and are able to withstand being stood on without sustaining injury. As a result, chick mortality can be quite high during the first two weeks of life, but that reduces considerable once the chicks are a couple of weeks old.
For the reasons explained above, we are not yet able to take photos of the chicks.
To manoeuvre the adult penguin around in the nest to get a photo of the chicks hiding underneath would put the chicks at risk from being trampled, and it would also be almost impossible to get good photos like that. So we wait until late January to take the photos of the chicks. In this respect we are like doctors, following an oath to first do no harm. Our first priority is always to do nothing that could harm the penguins we are monitoring and protecting.
The drought has been unique to Magdalena Island, caused by strange weather patterns within the Straits of Magellan. Our colonies in Argentina have not been suffering from any drought, and they have so far shown the lowest egg losses ever recorded since records began, so that is really good news from those colonies. Hopefully this success will continue throughout the chick-rearing stage. The last two years in Argentina have been excellent, with very high breeding success and chick-survival, and this year could be even better if things continue.
I will write to you again in about four weeks, by which time your chicks should be taking short walks outside of the nest, enabling us to get a photo without causing a disturbance. In the meantime, I wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Thursday, December 9, 2010
It's almost time for ICE BALL
And we are OFF to ring in the New Year in Icebar Orlando style once again. Last year's party was great, this year we are adding a LOT of value for the buck. It's our stimulus package for a great year in Orlando.
For $40 you get the whole party, midnight buffet, Icebar, use of cape and gloves, your picture in a keychain to take home, the sounds of Docta Dawe Orlando's #1 DJ, and Nate Hill, our #1 video DJ - who just last night installed another new screen - it's a great show of sound and fun.
We are also toasting the new year with champagne, your choice of brut or rose' and if you like, there is an option to upgrade to an open bar package.
Questions? Call 407-426-7555 and talk to us! Book early, we are selling out quickly.
No Groupons or coupons on this night and you Must be 21 to enter all night long. Sorry young 'un's but this is a night for the Majors!
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
It's the season for giving, and we are hosting our second annual Cell Phones for Soldiers party at Icebar Orlando. Bring a gently used cellphone, and we will give YOU a free entry into the icebar ($19.95 regular price). We will also have snacks, music, dancing, prizes and a heck of a party all night in honor of our troops.
Each phone is sent to be re-used or for parts, and the company gives a calling card that is sent to a soldier far from home. The gift of hearing the voice of their families is very much appreciated by these soldiers.
DECEMBER 11 STARTING AT 8:00 PM
News from the Charity www.cellphonesforsoldiers.com
Dear friends and supporters,
As we position Cell Phones for Soldiers for future success, we felt that a regular e-newsletter was in order…so welcome to the first edition!
At least quarterly, Cell Phones for Soldiers will issue updates on the many activities taking place to support the men and women serving in the U.S. military.
In 2011, a challenging yet achievable goal of serving 750,000 soldiers has been set. With your help, that goal is possible so please donate today. Cell Phones for Soldiers thrives on cash donations and the recycling of gently-used mobile phones.
Since 2004, Cell Phones for Soldiers has provided more than 90 million minutes of free talk time to the troops and kept more than 7.5 million cell phones out of landfills.
This mission could not be fulfilled without the generosity and dedication of our friends and supporters. We truly appreciate you and look forward to another successful year.
The Bergquist Family Founders, Cell Phones for Soldiers
Saturday, November 27, 2010
It's a pretty good translation, but this is from the Italian Skyscanner Magazine talking about the best in the world! Icebar Orlando is proud to be with this group of great ice bars.
Friday, November 26, 2010
These days with snow in some Italian cities are a clear sign that winter is coming, and it freezes. Now why do not identify with a polar climate, and perhaps enjoy a few cocktails? Skyscanner investigates the festive side of the ice.
It is called Absolut Icebar and is a place where ice and design are the masters. Built with pure ice from the Torne River, the concept of playing the local aquatic environment, offering visitors a thrilling (in all senses) in an enigmatic submarine environment. People are always fascinated by water in all its forms, that perception has inspired sculptors dell'Absolut, but not limited to bartenders and waiters also have a dress code that invokes the theme of the underwater world.
Ice Club - RomaAnche the capital of Italy has his own restaurant and the ice is called Ice Club Designed by a team of artists as well as sculptors came from England, the place is completely frozen from walls, chairs, sofas and bar . The temperature is fixed at 5 ° below zero and the atmosphere is magic, enhanced by light, its fur and seating that makes the room welcoming and comfortable ... If well covered! The Ice pub is located in Rome at Via della Madonna dei Monti, close to the magnificent Colosseum. Virtually all the airlines go through Heathrow, starting from cheaper, why not take advantage?
The City could not be outdone, in fact, also the first English town has its Icebar London. Even with the glasses you drink the cocktails are pure ice and for about 40 minutes you can enjoy this atmosphere to below zero, but without hibernation, the entry will be given a warm cape. Located in the busy and hectic Heddon Street, a visit to the famous London Icebar is worth it. Both day and night is an unforgettable experience. One more reason to search for flights to London.
We pass on to other dimensions, the Icebar Orlando is the largest ice bar in the world. Lights incredible caves, frozen and crazy music, here are all the ingredients to spend a crazy night 'Arctic'. Each visitor has 45 minutes to enjoy the frozen thrones and chairs, take part in a 'P' to the North Pole, complete with thrilling stories. Again, there will still be required to provide the heat, the gloves in a blanket. Who wants to be able to purchase the mascot or the Penguin Pizz.
Served about 45 tons of ice came directly from Sweden, to build and decorate the first Ice Bar in Asia. The bar is located all'Infinity Plaza Central Huaihai Road, and along with its 100 square meters can accommodate about 60 people at a time. Here too, the Swedish touch is missing, both in design and type of reception. I wonder if we also add a hotel of ice?
Sunday, November 21, 2010
When I get up early on a Sunday, I sometimes amuse myself by making funny videos. Love this one!
There is more to the party, and it is a bargain this year. $40 each, with the best in music, food, entertainment. Our resident magician, Chris, will be here, all our amazing staff will be on hand to make it an epic event for you to ring in the New Year. Join us
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Icebar Orlando has been busy, working to make the Holidays special for us, and for our friends in the Military Services. We are hosting another Cellphone for Soldiers party at Icebar, and in honor of all our armed services overseas have made a little video for their amusement.
Stay tuned for the details, but watch this for the fun. This year starring Stephanie, Julio, Sean #2 and Bud!
Monday, November 8, 2010
ICEBAR Orlando serves Little Penguin Wine. Each bottle supports the Penguin Foundation, and we have also adopted our own Magellanic penguin named Ice Ice Baby. Here is the continuing story of our little penguin.
I attach a new photo of your penguin back home in the burrow. The penguins recently arrived back at the colony from their winter vacations, and the first job they had to do was to make repairs to the nest after the winter storms. The pairs then mate, and two eggs were laid in the nest just a few days ago. Magellanic penguins always lay exactly two eggs, with approximately 4 days between each egg.
If we were to disturb the penguins before the eggs are laid, there is a slight chance that they would abandon the nest and move elsewhere, but once the eggs have been laid the penguins remain in the nest. It is for that reason that we only take the photos of our adopted penguins after the colony has finished laying eggs.
Each nest is examined to make sure that both eggs are present, and the photos that we send to you are taken. From this point onwards the nest is visited every few days to follow the progress of the eggs and then the chicks, right up until the chicks are fully grown and leave the nest to begin life on their own.
The eggs now in the nest have to be kept warm for the next 6 weeks, so that the little baby penguins can grow inside the eggs. Since the nests have no heating, the eggs are kept warm by the adults lying over the eggs. This keeps the eggs safe from predators, like gulls and skuas, and also maintains the correct temperature for the embryos to develop inside the eggs. Keeping the eggs warm like this is called 'incubation', and virtually all birds need to do it. The attached photo shows your penguin in the nest with the eggs.
Penguins have an area of skin on their stomachs which is called the 'brood patch'. This area has very few feathers, and enables the adult's skin to press directly against the eggs, providing good heat transfer into the eggs.
Such close contact is necessary during heavy rain to stop the eggs loosing heat. When the penguins leave the nest and go to sea, this area of bare skin is closed (hence the name 'pouch'), so that the cold sea water does not chill the penguin.
Penguin eggs are quite large, weighing about 130 grams each. That is about twice the size of the hen eggs which you probably eat at home. Magellanic penguin eggs take approximately 6 weeks to hatch, and the hatching itself can take up to a couple of days as the tiny chick (which has very little strength because it has never used its muscles) struggles to break free of the egg shell.
Because penguins eat fish, it means that they are unable to eat anything whilst they are incubating the eggs, so they take it in turns. One of the parents stays in the nest incubating the eggs, whilst the other goes to sea to catch fish, and they change over every couple of days.
Penguins are very fast swimmers, and very good at catching fish. The reason they are black on their backs and white on their tummies, is so that the fish can't see them coming. From deep beneath the water, their silvery-white chests and tummies are difficult to see by fish looking up towards the light sky above, and fish looking down cannot easily see their black backs against the gloomy dark depths below. That is why penguins, and gulls, and indeed most seabirds, have white stomachs, chests and underparts, and black backs, heads and upper parts.
Magdalena Island's only building is a lighthouse, one of many lighthouses that were built around 100 years ago to help ships navigate through the Straits of Magellan. The Straits of Magellan were discovered in 1520 by Hernan de Magallanes, and it was an important discovery because it allowed ships to travel from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, without going around the dreaded Cape Horn, that destroyed so many ships with its savage storms. Magellanic penguins take their name from the Straits of Magellan, which in turn was named after Hernan de Magallanes
Throughout Patagonia the winds are very strong, averaging 20 to 30km per hour most days, with storms of over 100km per hour being common. As such, the seas around southern South America can be very rough, but penguins are very good swimmers, and have no problem swimming in even the roughest of weather. Penguins prefer being at sea, and only come ashore when necessary to raise chicks and to moult / molt (change their feathers).
Magdalena Island is a very big penguin colony, with about 65,000 occupied nests in the colony, which we have been studying and protecting since 1998, thanks to our penguin adoption programme. Population censuses performed since 1999 show that the population is healthy and has increased slightly in size during that period, thanks to monitoring and protection. Unfortunately the progress of the colony has been recently threatened by climate change.
You will recall how last season lack of rain caused much of the grass to die off, leaving loose sandy soil that blows across the island day after day, filling in and covering the penguin burrows. We had hoped that rain during the winter months would have allowed the grass to recover, but unfortunately rainfall during the winter was low, and there has been no improvement in grass cover. Early indications are that this is not going to be a good season on Magdalena Island, and that we are once again going to be kept busy digging out penguins trapped inside their burrows.
Thank you for supporting our adoption programme. Please help us to do more by letting other people know about our penguin adoption programme. Our work is entirely funded by our adoption programme, and the sale of my books, so the more people who sign up, the more we can do to help the penguins.
Our Internet page is www.seabirds.org/adopt.htm and we also have a page on Facebook called "Penguins - Penguins Adoption Programme" where you can see a photo album of us working with the penguins at
If you have a Facebook page yourself, please click on the "Like" button to add our page to your list of sites that you like, so that more people will find us. Every new person that comes across our work, and adopts a penguin, means another penguin being kept safe.
I will write to you again as soon as the eggs hatch.