Keeping an eye on penguins

The status of penguins has not been an easy thing to establish but new techniques and knowledge are improving assessments.

Scientists are studying the distribution and abundance of penguins and other animals by studying high-quality satellite images, rather visiting the animals in person.

Last year, in a colony of around 40,000 Adélie penguins, scientists encountered about 18,000 tiny chick corpses. All but two of the colony’s Adélie chicks had died, apparently of starvation. And during the breeding season of 2013–2014, not a single chick survived.

The scientists studying these colonies say that the reasons for the mass deaths are complicated and that Adelie numbers are growing.

And lo, early this year a previously unknown colony of 1.5 million Adelies was discovered on the Antarctic Peninsula (which extends towards South America).

But all the study in the world, without action, won’t save many penguin species which are in danger from climate change and overfishing.

A strong case is being made to protect the penguin colonies of South Georgia and the South Sandwich islands where one-quarter of the world’s penguins live.

And how could we allow ourselves to lose such endearing creatures as penguins. This photograph of a Gentoo Penguin mother and chick won the Audubon Photography Awards grand prize for 2017.



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