This is why a brand new penguin colony in Antarctica is trigger for concern

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Scientists have found a beforehand unknown colony of gentoo penguins in one of many southernmost spots these waddling birds have ever been noticed. The invention is a trigger for concern, in keeping with the researchers, who say that local weather change is increasing the vary of this temperate, non-ice-loving species of penguin.

And this is not the one regarding discover. Along with this gentoo penguin (Pygoscelis papua) colony with 75 nests on Andersson Island, gentoo penguins have additionally been sighted on an unexplored archipelago off the Antarctic Peninsula’s northern tip. Each are among the many first data of the species breeding to this point south on the jap facet of the Antarctic Peninsula, in keeping with a press release from Greenpeace Canada. 

Beforehand, these areas have been too icy for gentoo penguins, which desire temperate climes the place they’ll increase their chicks. These penguins, the third-largest dwelling penguin species, are native to hotter sub-Antarctic islands, such because the Falkland Islands off Argentina; they usually often reside in ice-free areas, equivalent to flat, rocky seashores and low-lying cliffs the place giant colonies can collect, in keeping with Oceana, a nonprofit that wasn’t concerned with the brand new sightings.

Associated: Photographs of flightless birds: All 18 penguin species 

Through the expedition, Greenpeace invited unbiased scientists aboard its icebreaker vessel MV Arctic Dawn to sail by way of the Weddell Sea and assist rely penguins on the southern continent. 

“Mapping out these distant archipelagos will give us a greater understanding of how the area’s penguins are responding to fast local weather change,” expedition co-leader Heather J. Lynch, a professor of ecology and evolution at Stony Brook College in New York, mentioned within the assertion. “As anticipated, we’re discovering gentoo penguins practically in all places we glance — extra proof that local weather change is drastically altering the combo of species right here on the Antarctic Peninsula.”

Till now, only one solitary gentoo penguin nest had been noticed this far south. Gentoo penguins do not migrate, so circumstances must be supreme for them to remain in a single location year-round, in keeping with Mongabay.

Picture 1 of 4

Clare Flynn, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at Stony Brook University, conducts research at a penguin colony in Wide Open Island in Antarctica.

Clare Flynn, a doctoral candidate within the Division of Ecology and Evolution at Stony Brook College, conducts analysis at a penguin colony in Huge Open Island in Antarctica. (Picture credit score: © Tomás Munita/Greenpeace)Picture 2 of 4

Scientist Michael Wethington, an applied ecologist at Stony Brook University in New York, pilots a drone over a penguin colony in Wide Open Island in Antarctica.

Michael Wethington, an utilized ecologist at Stony Brook College in New York, pilots a drone over a penguin colony in Huge Open Island in Antarctica. (Picture credit score: © Tomás Munita/Greenpeace)Picture 3 of 4

Gentoo penguins usually live in sub-Antarctic areas.

Gentoo penguins often reside in sub-Antarctic areas. (Picture credit score: © Tomás Munita/Greenpeace)Picture 4 of 4

A Gentoo penguin colony on Andersson Island, Antarctica.

A Gentoo penguin colony on Andersson Island, Antarctica. (Picture credit score: © Tomás Munita/Greenpeace)

“They’re very opportunistic, so any likelihood they get, they are going to colonize rock because the glaciers retreat,” Lynch advised Mongabay. “In order that they’re the factor that we have a tendency to make use of to see how far local weather change has gone by way of turning the Antarctic Peninsula right into a extra sub-Antarctic or extra temperate local weather.”

Many penguin populations are in flux because of the quickly altering local weather and elevated industrial fishing, in keeping with a Greenpeace assertion. As an illustration, ice loss in Antarctica elevated sixfold over the past 30 years, Reside Science beforehand reported. One among Antarctica’s largest glaciers — Thwaites Glacier, also called the “Doomsday Glacier” — might collapse in just some years, probably growing sea ranges worldwide by greater than 2 toes (65 centimeters), Reside Science reported in December. 

To assist native animals struggling in a warming Antarctic, scientists and conservationists are pushing for 3 new marine protected areas across the southern continent, together with in East Antarctica, the Antarctic Peninsula and the Weddell Sea, which might span 1.5 million sq. miles (4 million sq. kilometers), Mongabay reported. 

“Governments must agree [to] a brand new International Ocean Treaty to ship safety for at the least 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030 — they usually should get to work by defending the Antarctic’s waters,” Louisa Casson, of Greenpeace’s Defend the Oceans marketing campaign, who was additionally aboard the Arctic Dawn, mentioned within the assertion. 

Initially printed on Reside Science.

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