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Simon

Climate-change disaster in East Antarctica as only two chicks survive from colony of 40,000 penguins

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Simon   
Simon

This is just heartbreaking! In a colony of about 40 000 Adélie penguins in East Antarctica only two(!) chicks survived this year's breeding season. The catastrophic breeding event is a result of climate change, as well as overfishing, oil drilling and pollution. The Guardian reports: Penguin disaster as only two chicks survive from colony of 40,000

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A colony of about 40,000 Adélie penguins in Antarctica has suffered a “catastrophic breeding event” – all but two chicks have died of starvation this year. It is the second time in just four years that such devastation – not previously seen in more than 50 years of observation – has been wrought on the population.

[...] Elsewhere, human pressures including climate change have already been having a severe impact on the numbers of Adélie penguins. On the Antarctic Peninsula, which has been badly affected by climate change, populations have been decreasing, and some researchers suggest they may become extinct there.

And it's not just about climate change, as John Sauven notes: Penguins starving to death is a sign that something’s very wrong in the Antarctic

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The creeping expansion of industrial fishing is targeting the one species on which practically every animal in the Antarctic relies: krill. These tiny shrimp-like creatures are crucial for the survival of penguins, whales, seals and other wildlife. With a changing climate already placing wildlife populations in the Antarctic under pressure, an expanding krill industry is bad news for the health of the Antarctic Ocean. Even worse, the krill industry and the governments that back it are blocking attempts at environmental protection in the Antarctic.

Adélie penguins tend to be regarded as as a species that could adapt better than other species to a rapidly changing climate. But coupled with both global warming and overfishing, they are having a hard time to survive - as this catastrophic breeding event so brutally shows.

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Surviving mostly on a diet of krill -- a small shrimp-like crustacean -- Adelie penguins, slick and efficient swimmers, have been generally faring well in East Antarctica.

But they have been declining in the Antarctic region more generally where climate change has taken its toll, with shifting ice reducing habitat while warming seas affect their prey.

Four years ago, the same colony, which numbered 20,196 pairs at the time, failed to produce a single chick.

Heavy sea ice, combined with unusually warm weather and rain followed by a rapid drop in temperature, resulted in them becoming saturated and freezing to death.

Source: Thousands of penguin chicks starve in Antarctica

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