And in addition, about 3,000 penguin chicks were rescued and hand raised.
And again, we know from long-term monitoring that more of these hand-raised chicks survive to adulthood and breeding age than do parent-raised chicks.
Armed with this knowledge, SANCCOB has a chick-bolstering project,
and every year, they rescue and raise abandoned chicks, and they have a very impressive, 80 percent success rate.
This is critically important, because one year ago, the African penguin was declared endangered.
And they could be extinct in less than 10 years if we don't do something now to protect them.
So what did I learn from this intense and unforgettable experience?
Personally, I learned that I am capable of handling so much more than I ever dreamed possible.
And I learned that one person can make a huge difference. Just look at that 17-year-old.
And when we come together and work as one, we can achieve extraordinary things.
And truly, to be a part of something so much larger than yourself is the most rewarding experience you can possibly have.
So I'd like to leave you with one final thought and a challenge, if you will.
My mission as The Penguin Lady is to raise awareness and funding to protect penguins.
But why should any of you care about penguins? Well, you should care because they're an indicator species.
And simply put: if penguins are dying, it means our oceans are dying.
And we ultimately will be affected, because, as Sylvia Earle says, "The oceans are our life-support system."
And the two main threats to penguins today are overfishing and global warming.
And these are two things that each one of us actually has the power to do something about.
So if we each do our part, together, we can make a difference, and we can help keep penguins from going extinct.
Humans have always been the greatest threat to penguins, but we are now their only hope.