Frozen To Death: Too Much Sea Ice & Temperature Drop Causes Antarctic Penguin Disaster

  • Date: 13/10/17
  • The Daily Telegraph

A colony of more than 36,000 Adelie penguins in Antarctica suffered a catastrophic breeding season with just two chicks surviving, experts have said. Extensive sea ice and a drop in temperature caused chicks to freeze to death.

The disaster for the colony in Terre Adelie in East Antarctica was down to unusually extensive sea ice late in the summer – despite low ice early in the season – which meant penguins had to travel further for food and the chicks starved.

In the wake of the “devastating” event involving more than 18,000 penguin pairs, conservation group WWF is calling for greater protection for the waters off East Antarctica to ensure penguins do not face added pressure of competition from fishing fleets for their main food source of krill. […]

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 that 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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