Saturday, 14 October 2017

Just two baby penguins survive disastrous breeding season from colony of 36,000 in Antarctica

A colony of more than 18,000 pairs of Adelie penguins in Antarctica have suffered a catastrophic breeding season with just two chicks surviving, wildlife experts say.

Scientists say an unusually extensive sea ice late in the summer - despite low ice early in the season - is being blamed as this meant the penguins had to travel further for food causing the chicks to starve.

Conservation group WWF says the devastating breeding season also proves waters off East Antarctica must be protected from fishing fleets which make it harder for penguins to find their key food source, krill.

The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) will meet on Monday to consider a proposal for a new marine protected area for the waters off East Antarctica.
A marine protected area, which would prevent krill fishing, would help to secure a future for the wildlife of East Antarctica, including Adelie and emperor penguins, WWF said.

Adelie penguins are generally faring well in East Antarctica, but declining in the Antarctic peninsula region where climate change is already established, the conservation group said.

But the same colony which failed to breed chicks this year, failed to produce a single chick four years ago from 20,196 adult pairs, with heavy sea ice combining with unusually warm weather and rain followed by a drop in temperature leaving many chicks saturated and freezing to death.

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