cover image Fraser’s Penguins: A Journey to the Future in Antarctica

Fraser’s Penguins: A Journey to the Future in Antarctica

Fen Montaigne, Holt, $26 (336p) ISBN 978-0-8050-7942-5

Montaigne (Reeling in Russia), a journalist and travel writer, spent five months tracking penguins through the breeding season on the northwestern Antarctica peninsula with the scientist Bill Fraser, and his book is a bittersweet account of the stark beauty of the continent and the climate change that threatens its delicate ecosystem. Fraser first came to Antarctica in 1974, and his research on the peninsula, one of the fastest-warming places on the planet, with an 11°F winter heat rise in the past 60 years, has made him a pivotal figure in the study of how global warming disrupts not just individual species but creates an ecological cascade. As diminishing sea ice reduces the krill and silver fish that feed the Adélie penguins, who have thrived in this region for thousands of years, they are now dwindling alarmingly; consequently, brown skua birds, predators of the Adélies, are also having trouble breeding, and gentoo penguins, who thrive in warmer conditions, are becoming the dominant species. Montaigne poetically portrays the daunting Antarctic landscape and gives readers an intimate perspective on its rugged, audacious, and charming penguin and human inhabitants. (Nov.)