Sci-tech

1.5 mn penguins discovered on remote Danger Islands

1.5 mn penguins discovered on remote Danger Islands

"It validates our previous understanding, or at least our previous idea, of how Adélie penguins are affected by climate change", Polito said.

While we battle through some Arctic conditions of our own here in the United Kingdom, a previously undiscovered "supercolony" of Adélie penguins has been found on the ominously named Danger Islands in Antarctica. Fishing boats have not endangered the penguins' access to the krill they feed on.

One of the world's largest colonies and also the largest colony in the Antarctic Peninsula of these penguins have been found by researchers. There are a lot of them there.

Thankfully, it turns out that the Adélie penguin's plight isn't as great as previously thought.

When researchers arrived at the region in December 2015, they found hundreds of thousands of birds nesting in the rocky soil. The team then spent about a year using a computer algorithm to analyze the images to more fully count 751,527 penguin nests, Lynch says.

"It's kind of incredible that there's been this really large number of penguins breeding on these small islands in a remote part of Antarctica that sort of slipped under the radar for so long", co-author Michael Polito, an oceanography professor at Louisiana State University, told As It Happens host Carol Off.

"This is called the Danger Islands for a reason", Lynch said.

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A flourishing hidden 1.5 million penguins "supercolony" has just been observed on some islands in Antarctica, known as the Danger Islands, announced scientists, today, March 2nd. It also offers a valuable benchmark for future change in the species, and it will lend valuable evidence for supporting Marine Protected Areas near the Antarctic Peninsula.

After heading to the remote island in December 2015 to investigate, the professors, along with a seabird ecologist from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in MA and other experts, said they found hundreds of thousands of birds nesting in the rocky soil.

"We want to understand why". It's locked up in sea ice most of the year, and even in summer it's hard to reach. "Food availability? That's something we don't know".

Danger Islands expedition team members on Heroina Island, Danger Islands, Antarctica.

"This exciting discovery shows us just how much more there still is to learn about this fantastic and iconic species of the ice", said Rod Downie, head of polar programmes at WWF.

The research results will also support the proposed Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) near the Antarctic Peninsula, adds Mercedes Santos, from the Instituto Antártico Argentino (one of the authors of the MPA proposal).