by Maimouna Kante
Unusually thick ice in the Antarctic has caused a mass starvation of Adelie penguins.
According to the BCC, there was an increase in the amount of ice towards the end of the season, which forced the adults to venture farther for food in order to feed their offspring. Many conservationists have described it as a “catastrophic breeding failure.” This is the second season that has been fatal for the little Adelie chicks.
There are a total of 36,000 penguins that conservation groups say need to be put under protection. The Adelie are found in the far south along the Antarctic coast and breed from October to February. They tend to lay two eggs in a nest made of stones where the parents take turns incubating the eggs. They mostly live off of small shrimp known as krill.
According to Telegraph reporters, a group of French scientists have been observing a colony of 18,000 pairs of Adelie in East Antarctica since 2010. Throughout their observations, only two chicks survived. Their findings will be discussed on Monday at the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) in order to find solutions to the problems that were found.
Two main issues have been at the source of this breeding failure. The first is competition. The World Wildlife Fund has advised that there should be a ban on krill fishing in order to prevent the penguins from having to compete with other organisms.
Climate change is one of the many driving forces of this situation. Some areas of Antarctica have melted and caused the ice to shift and increase in certain areas—more specifically areas that are inhabited by the Adelie.
The head of polar programs at the WWF, Rod Downie, explains, “This devastating event contrasts with the Disney image that many people might have of penguins. It’s more like ‘Tarantino does Happy Feet,’ with dead penguin chicks strewn across a beach in Adelie Land.”