Insufficient Ice Endangers Juvenile Penguins

Researchers claim that the survival chances of rare seabirds are negatively impacted by the loss of ice in Antarctica, based on data collected by satellites. Emperor penguins are the big, flightless birds. Colonies, or groups of them, rear their young on the ice that forms all over the continent. During the summer, some of the ice melts. In 2022, five bird nesting colonies near the Bellingshausen Sea were examined by French and British researchers using satellite imagery. They claimed that the photos demonstrated that there was no sea ice in December in the Southern Hemisphere’s summer. The researchers observed that this also occurred in 2021. According to the experts, early sea ice had an impact on four out of the five colonies they looked at.

 

Chicks of emperor penguins are born on Antarctic ice that accumulates throughout the winter months. Because penguin babies do not acquire waterproof feathers until one to two months after birth, the ice is crucial. The report was co-authored by British Antarctic Survey researcher Peter Fretwell. “The young chicks will drown if the sea ice breaks up under them,” he declared. Additionally, Fretwell’s group began examining penguin nesting locations around Antarctica. Satellite photographs of the nesting locations allowed them to identify them since the bird droppings were darker than the snow around them. According to scientific estimates, there are 300,000 emperor penguin breeding pairs in Antarctica. The birds are the biggest penguins in the world.

 

Low sea ice affected thirty percent of the 62 known penguin colonies, according to Fretwell, who spoke with the Associated Press. 13 colonies most likely failed, he added. At the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in the state of Massachusetts, Daniel Zitterbart conducts research on Antarctica. He did not participate in the research. However, Zitterbart stated that the findings of the penguin study did not surprise him. He explained that penguins may move to a new location the following year if they are unable to reproduce successfully in their current location. The populace might bounce back.

 

 

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