Supercolony Of Penguins Discovered On Antarctic Island

Mar 03, 2018, 04:56
Supercolony Of Penguins Discovered On Antarctic Island

By Image ID: corp2417, NOAA Corps CollectionPhotographer: Giuseppe ZibordiCredit: Michael Van Woert, NOAA NESDIS, ORA [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsPenguins are fascinating birds, that manage to survive on the cold Antarctic continent despite all the cruel conditions that they are exposed to. "Our results validate the use of Landsat medium-resolution satellite imagery for the detection of new or unknown penguin colonies and highlight the utility of combining satellite imagery with ground and UAV surveys".

In December 2015 a team of 10 scientists made the treacherous journey to the Danger Islands, on the edge of the Weddell Sea's oceanic vortex of sea ice.

"One of the ways in which this is good news is that other studies have shown this area (the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula) is likely to remain more stable under climate change than the western Antarctic Peninsula", said Lynch.

The discovery was published Friday in the Scientific Reports journal. When they got there, Polito said, they discovered even more penguins than they'd expected.

"It's a classic case of finding something where no one really looked", study co-author Tom Hart says. Nevertheless, when Polito visited the islands, the ice appeared to be low. Finally getting into the Danger Islands and counting the penguins shows how robust populations are where the ice is intact'. They tallied up the numbers by hand and used a modified quadcopter drone to capture images of the entire island from above. He then realized that he had discovered a hidden penguin colony.

MIT shows an aerial view of an Adelie penguin breeding colony on the Danger Islands

"The sheer size of what we were looking at took our breath away", one of the researchers with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), Dr. There, they found hundreds of thousands of penguins crammed in the rocky soil. "I hope in two to five years we count the same number or more".

'We were surprised to find so many penguins on these islands, especially because some of these islands were not known to have penguins'.

"It puts the East Antarctic Peninsula in stark contrast to the Adélie and chinstrap penguin declines that we are seeing on the West Antarctic Peninsula".

Researchers believe other colonies may have been adversely affected by a reduction in sea ice from climate change-krill, tiny crustaceans that are a staple in the penguin diet, live in the ice-an influx of fishermen, and other human disturbances.

Scientists are now calling for the area to be considered for protection in the form of "marine protected areas" - in order to help shield the large penguin population from the impact of human activity.

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