Tuesday, March 6, 2018

1.5 Million Supercolony of Penguins Discovered on Antarctica Islands

Image Credit: Michael Polito/Louisiana State University
Image Credit: Michael Polito/Louisiana State University
 One and a half million Adelie penguins have been discovered living on the Danger Islands off the Antarctica peninsula. This discovery was accidentally made possible when bird excrement was picked up by NASA satellites in 2014, prompting scientists to calculate the vast population using drone technology.
 The discovery comes after the death of thousands of Adelie penguin chicks due to mass starvation from the years 2010 to 2017. This 'catastrophic breeding failure' as described by French scientists was caused by unusually thick sea ice which forced parents to forage further for food. In the end, only two chicks out of 18,000 mating pairs of Adelie penguins in east Antarctica survived the 2017 mating season.
 The supercolony managed to stay undetected for so long due to the remoteness of the islands. The waters surrounding the Danger islands are known to be treacherous for sailors.
 “Not only do the Danger Islands hold the largest population of Adelie penguins on the Antarctic peninsula, they also appear to have not suffered the population declines found along the western side of Antarctic peninsula that are associated with recent climate change,” said Professor Michael Polito, from Louisiana State University, who co-authored the study.

Read more about this fascinating story at: http://nationalpost.com/news/world/isolated-supercolony-of-1-5-million-penguins-discovered-by-drones-on-antarctic-islands

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