Emperor Penguins at Danger

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CNN informs that the world’s second-largest emperor penguin colony has almost disappeared, according to a new report, raising concern about the effects of climate change on the species.

In the report researchers from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) say that thousands of emperor penguin chicks drowned when sea ice in Antarctica’s Weddell Sea was destroyed by storms in 2016. Since than the numbers of the colony have dropped to almost zero, as Emperor penguins colony have failed to raise chicks. Unfortunately, the storms recurred in 2017 and again in 2018 leading to the death of almost all the chicks at the site.

Penguin expert Phil Trathan said that it is impossible to say whether the changes in sea-ice conditions at Halley Bay are related to climate change, but one thing is definite; such a complete failure to breed successfully is unprecedented.

The good news is that while the Halley Bay colony has almost disappeared, the nearby Dawson Lambton colony has increased more than tenfold. It means that many of the adult emperors have moved there, seeking better breeding grounds.

Peter Convey, a BAS scientist who was not involved with the study, said this is the first time that such a drastic colony loss has been seen, adding that a combination of warming and more damaging storms is what is likely to be behind the changes in sea ice seen in this area.


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