One Among The Largest Penguin Colonies On Earth Has Officially Disappeared

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Thousands of emperor penguins are now presumed dead after an unprecedented sea-ice collapse in the Antarctic. Experts worry there'll be more of those incidents as the Antarctic continues to warm.

One Among The Largest Penguin Colonies On Earth Has Officially Disappeared

Shutterstock


Thousands of emperor penguins are now presumed dead after an unprecedented sea-ice collapse in the Antarctic. Experts worry there'll be more of those incidents as the Antarctic continues to warm.


Birds in that specific emperor penguin colony were raising chicks on a mass of sea ice in the Wedell Sea when a disastrous storm blew through in 2017. This weakened the ice and caused thousands of young chicks to drown, according to officials with the British Antarctic Survey (BAS).


Emperors are the tallest and heaviest of all penguin species and need sturdy patches of sea ice on which to raise their young. From April to December, the ice must be able to withstand the weight of thousands of birds. Satellite pictures of the area released this week by BAS officially confirmed the total disappearance of the colony — that adds to already part of a near-threatened species.


Dr. Peter Fretwell, a member of BAS that first noticed the colony’s disappearance on satellite, worries that weaker sea ice and warmer waters could mean more danger for particularly emperor penguins as well.


"The sea-ice that's formed since 2016 hasn't been as strong,” said Fretwell. “Storm events that occur in October and November will now blow it out early. So there's been some sort of regime change. Sea-ice that was previously stable and reliable is now just untenable."


One Among The Largest Penguin Colonies On Earth Has Officially Disappeared

Shutterstock

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Thinking Humanity: One Among The Largest Penguin Colonies On Earth Has Officially Disappeared
One Among The Largest Penguin Colonies On Earth Has Officially Disappeared
Thousands of emperor penguins are now presumed dead after an unprecedented sea-ice collapse in the Antarctic. Experts worry there'll be more of those incidents as the Antarctic continues to warm.
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