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Indianapolis Prize Finalist: Dee Boersma is a protector of penguins

Boersma says she has always been fascinated with penguins.

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) — The Indianapolis Prize recognizes the world’s leading animal conservationists. One of the finalists this year is Dee Boersma, Ph.D., known as the protector of penguins.

Boersma says she has always been fascinated with penguins.

“What's not to love, you know? They walk upright. They're comical. They're curious," Boersma said.

Boersma was so curious about them, she went to the equator to study them.

"Galapagos penguins I thought were bizarre. What are they doing living on the equator? I mean, that's a crazy place for a penguin to live," Boersma said.

She has studied these penguins for decades.

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"They're different from any of the other species of penguins. All other penguins molt once a year. Galapagos penguins, twice a year. Other penguins lay eggs once a year. Galapagos penguins up to three times a year," Boersma said.

She says penguins face many challenges including nest erosion, climate change, and oil that's dumped in the ocean.

"People don't like to see oiled penguins because most of us feel it's unfair. I mean, what did that penguin do to get oiled? It's minding its own business and swims into oil," Boersma said.

Boersma says penguins help us know more about the overall health of the environment.

"We have to do better at how we use the earth. I mean, this is the only place we've got to live too. It's the only place penguins have got to live. But what the penguins are telling us is it's really getting more and more difficult for all these species of penguins to live, even in these remote places," Boersma said.