Creative February 11 – The last bastion

It is with great sadness that I write this haibun –

A couple of weeks ago I watched a programme on TV featuring penguins. Penguins roost in colonies on the Antarctic ice and when they have young ones to feed, the adults make several trips to the sea everyday, catch krill, store them in a sac in their throat, trudge back to the colony and regurgitate it to feed the young ones. However, due to global warming and the receding ice cover in the Antarctic one penguin colony found itself very close to the sea. In a way it was good for the adults, they didn’t have to make long journeys over the ice, to and from the sea carrying food for the young ones. But, one day the ice under their colony melted. The adults could swim to safety but the young ones had not yet shed their fur coats, which had been keeping them warm. And immersed in water the fur acted like sponges, soaking up the water and pulling them down. Unable to swim, they drowned to death.

The melting ice
earth dropping under their feet
penguin death-trap

The penguins’ main source of food is krill that live in the hundreds of billions in the waters of the Antarctic. They feed on phytoplankton that blooms in the nutrient-rich, deep-water upwellings at the Antarctic Convergence during the 24-hour southern summer sunlight. Krill are also believed to be important in removing the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide by eating carbon-rich food near the surface and excreting it when they sink to lower, colder water to escape predators. But, global warming and overfishing has reduced their numbers by as much as 80%. Whales, penguins, seals, albatrosses and petrels depend on krill. So one can only imagine the effect on these animal populations if their main source of food is depleted.

tiny crustacean
bears a heavy burden
keeper of balance

Antarctica was that pristine, virgin space which had so far remained untouched. But humans, driven by only one impulse: insatiable greed, after ravaging the rest of Earth, are all set to rape and plunder this final bastion, until more species of animals are pushed to the brink or beyond of extinction.

the greed of man
many tentacled hydra
everything devoured