Mega Colonies Of 1.5 Million Adélie Penguins Discovered In Antarctica

| March 3 , 2018 , 14:58 IST

Huge numbers of Adélie penguins were found on the Danger Islands on the east side of the Antarctic Peninsula, surprising scientists who thought their numbers were on a decline. The expedition hosted more than 1.5 million birds residing in the Weddell Sea.

Located off the Antarctic peninsula's northern tip, these islands are both incredibly remote and surrounded by thick sea ice. This allowed the Penguins to remain hidden from the world until a team of researchers investigated the signs of nesting birds.

Satellite images and aerial photography from drones calculated and revealed total 751,527 pairs of penguins.

Researchers then examined satellite images going back to 1959 and realised that the colony has been stable since that time.

“This was an incredible experience, finding and counting so many penguins,” said Tom Hart, at the University of Oxford who was the part of the research team.

“The size of these colonies makes them regionally important and makes the case for expanding the proposed Weddell Sea Marine Protected Area (MPA) to include the Danger Islands. More than that, I think it highlights the need for better protection of the West Antarctic Peninsula, where we are seeing declines.” Hart further added.

Rod Downie at WWF said, “This exciting discovery shows us just how much more there still is to learn about this amazing and iconic species of the ice. But it also reinforces the urgency to protect Antarctic waters from the dual threats of overfishing and climate change.”

However, presently the discovery of the mega-colonies is a major development and good news for polar scientists.