It is the time for celebration in the world of nature lovers!
A new report concluded that nearly 6 million Adélie penguins, almost 4 million more than the previous estimates, live in the icy continent of Antarctica.
Till now scientists used to count the number of breeding pairs of Adélie penguins to count their numbers implying that non-breeding pairs were left out.
Louise Emmerson, a seabird ecologist, said:
Non-breeding birds are harder to count because they are out foraging at sea, rather than nesting in colonies on land.
The new research was carried out using a series of aerial and ground surveys along with automated image cameras to collect the accurate population of the penguins on the continent. Higher number of these birds are a cause for celebration as the numbers project a real picture of how these birds are multiplying.
However, this has also become a cause for concern as Adélie penguins nest on ice-free rocks during the summer months of October to February. These areas are also utilised by camping scientists to be closer to resupply ships. It is believed that more than a million birds breed within 12 miles from the research station.
Colin Southwell, another seabird ecologist, said:
“By identifying significant penguin breeding populations near stations, we can better identify which areas may need enhanced protection into the future.”
Antarctica is bearing the brunt of global warming and climate change. The ice is melting rapidly, thereby posing a threat to the eggs and the adult population of penguins. Warming of the continent leads to rainfall and premature ice melting during the breeding season. Puddles so formed can cause hypothermia for young penguin chicks who are yet to develop water-resistant feathers.
A research by the University of Delaware concluded that more than half of the current Adélie habitat could be unsuitable for penguin colonies by the end of the century.
Even though the new report paints a happy picture for Adélie Penguins in the continent, the Palmer Research Station in Antarctica has witnessed an 80 percent decline in the population over the last 30 years. And that’s something to worry about.