In Antarctica discovered the largest colony of penguins

Danger Islands Expedition Image

Penguin super-colony spotted from space

A thriving "hotspot" of 1.5 million Adelie penguins, a species fast declining in parts of the world, has been discovered on remote islands off the Antarctic Peninsula.

The first complete census revealed that the Danger Islands host more than 750,000 breeding pairs of Adelie penguins, more than the rest of the Antarctic Peninsula region combined, the team reported.

The discovery of a massive new bird city shows things must be picking up for the penguins.

Scientists detailed their discovery of the new super-colony in a new paper published this week in the journal Scientific Reports.

"We were surprised to find so many penguins on these islands, especially because some of these islands were not known to have penguins", admitted Heather Lynch.

"This is called the Danger Islands for a reason", said Ms Lynch. "But with only two hours on land it was impossible to estimate the size of the population before sea ice conditions forced us to leave", Polito said.

"Despite concerted global effort to track and interpret shifts in the abundance and distribution of Adélie penguins, large populations continue to be identified", says the article.

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Adélie penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae) have always been thought to be disappearing from our planet due to human encroachment on their territory, and especially from global warming affecting their food source, mainly krill, which are disappearing more rapidly as sea ice in the region ebbs. Lynch said in the news release.

"In 2006, I had the chance to visit one of the Danger Islands and was amazed by the sheer number of Adélie penguins I saw".

"It's a gyre, a spinning caultron of ice, and because its so icy, the eastern side of the peninsula is very icy", he said.

Scientists suspect that decline has something to do with reductions in sea-ice, which is an important habitat for krill, the small crustaceans that form a key part of the penguin diet.

An Adelie penguin colony beside the frozen Ross Sea area near McMurdo Station, Antarctica on November 11, 2016.

"Now that we know this tiny island group is so important, it can be considered for further protection", she explained. The team used a drone to help them survey the islands. And it's unlikely that birds from the nests on the western side of the peninsula have added to that stability by migrating to the safer environment, he said.

"We want to understand why". On the eastern side, where sea ice has been more stable, the species has clearly thrived. Let us know in the comments. Well, the Danger Islands are fairly remote, even by Antarctica standards. Half of his research is based in the Gulf and half at other locations, including his 16 years of work in Antarctica.

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