In a recent study published on March 5 by Scientific Report, scientists have shown that there is a larger population of Adélie penguins than previously thought. A large colony of penguins lives on the Danger Islands off the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula consisting 751,527 pairs of Adélie penguins. This is more than the population of Adélie penguins on the whole Antarctic Peninsula.
According to Action Bioscience, climate change is one of the main reasons penguin populations are declining, making the discovery of the large population important in the conservation of the species. In general, Antarctica is warming, but the Arctic Peninsula is warming faster than any other place in the southern hemisphere. This results in the loss of sea ice along the western part of the Peninsula and shortens the season when this ice is present. The sea ice is a vital part of how the Adélie’s get their food, so melting ice limits their ability to survive.
Adélie penguins build nests out of pebbles on the shorelines without ice and snow. The warmer temperatures have increased the snowfall in this area. Warm air can hold more moisture than the colder air that was previously found in this region. The increase in snow has made it more challenging for Adélie penguin to find ground for nesting. Additionally, the more snow and ice tolerant penguins that used to live on sea ice are moving into the same area that the Adélie penguins live in.
The new-found colony of Adélie penguins will help conservationist better protect this species. Now that they know where they are, the New York Times says, measures will be put in place to protect the population on the Danger Islands.