'Supercolony' of 1.5 million Adelie penguins found in Antarctica

Lena Tucker
March 4, 2018

Even more interesting, scientists think the penguins have flourished on the Danger Islands for decades, while other colonies of the birds have declined on other parts of the continent, especially on its western half.

It doesn't mean there is no reason for worry for the Adelie penguins, as western penguins have seen their populaces plunge by 65 percent in the last quarter century. He also designed algorithms to scan the collected images and identify the location of penguin nesting sites.

Scientists have just announced the discovery of a "supercolony" of Adélie penguins off the Antarctic Peninsula, which have lived undisturbed for almost 60 years.

Still, he added, the penguins aren't out of the woods just yet.

A team of global scientists, including two from Louisiana State University, have discovered that 1.5 million Adelie penguins have been hidden in plain sight on the nine ice-covered and rocky outcrops that make up the Danger Islands on the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula.

"Even though the tiny island chain is only about 10 kilometers across, researchers hadn't realized the extent of the pengube.com/embed/EWtvsWSwmrs" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen /iframe in population, says study coauthor Heather Lynch, an ecologist at Stony Brook University in NY. The colony features around 1.5 million penguins, according to a newly published study detailing the collective, and they're described as "thriving" in their remote, icy home.

Landsat satellite offered images showing lots of penguins' guano (excrements of the penguins) suggesting that the Danger Islands are inhabited by hundreds of thousands of penguins.

Dr Hart told the BBC: 'On the West Antarctic Peninsula, Adelie and chinstrap penguins are declining pretty fast, while Gentoo penguins are increasing.

To find out what was going on, the team launched an expedition in 2015 with the goal of seeing for themselves if there were actually penguins there.

"They would essentially mow the lawn, flying across these islands and taking pictures, and we knew we'd have all these images that we would stitch together", Polito explained. Co-author Heather Lynch of Stony Brook University said.

Polito is hopeful that the discovery of this hidden penguin super-colony will help policy makers have a better understanding of how the Waddell Sea is important, and that they will take it into consideration as a protected marine sanctuary. "Finally getting into the Danger Islands and counting the penguins shows how robust populations are where the ice is intact".

"The waters around the Danger Islands have been free from the pressures of krill fishing and have thrived". The number of Adelie penguins discovered on the Danger Islands represents more than all the recorded populations in the rest of the Antarctic Peninsula region combined. We need to comprehend why. Is it linked to the extended sea ice condition over there?

Other reports by AllAboutTopnews

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