This heartbreaking story comes out of the Antarctica. Thousands of Adelie penquin chicks died of starvation earlier this year when unusually thick sea ice formed, forcing their parents to travel up to 100k (62 miles) for food.
The Adelie penquin colony in Terre Adelie, Antarctica normally contains over 18,000 breeding pairs that this year produced only two surviving penquin chicks. (photo – animalsadda)
Catastrophic Breeding Failure
“Surviving mostly on a diet of krill, a small shrimp like crustacean, Adélie penguins are generally faring well in East Antarctica, but declining in the Antarctic peninsula region where climate change is well established. However, this significant breeding failure at this particular colony in East Antarctica has been linked to unusually extensive sea ice late in the summer, meaning the adult penguins had to travel further to forage for food for their chicks. As a result the chicks starved.” The World Wildlife Fund published in a news release.
Scientists found thousands of dead, starved chicks and unhatched eggs. A similar event occurred four years ago in 2013 when the same colony, numbering at that time over 20,000 breeding pairs, failed to produce a single chick.
Climate Change Affecting Antarctic!
“Again, heavy sea ice, combined with unusually warm weather and rain, followed by a rapid drop in temperature, resulted in many chicks becoming saturated and freezing to death,” WWF said. In addition to chicks freezing, the unusually heavy rain, when frozen, forms extra thick sea ice, forceing penquin parents to travel much further to open sea for food. The extra time required to travel such long distances resulted in the chicks starving.
“Adélie penguins are one of the hardiest and most amazing animals on our planet,” said Rod Downie, of Polar Programs at WWF-UK. However, how long can their populations remain healthy when suffering such catastrophic losses? And can the creation of a marine protected area help?
by Robert Frerck, Blue Ocean Network
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