1.5 mn penguins discovered on remote Danger Islands

Poop Trail Seen From Space Leads to 1.5M Adélie Penguin Super Colony Discovery in Antarctica

"It's kind of unbelievable that there's been this really large number of penguins breeding on these small islands in a remote part of Antarctica that sort of slipped under the radar for so long", said co-author Michael Polito, an oceanography professor at Louisiana State University.

Not only is this an incredible reminder that we still have so much yet to uncover about the planet we live in, it also provides scientists with hope. The nearby ocean has thick sea ice even in austral summer, which makes the place hard to access.

To count the newly discovered penguins, the scientists used human and artificial intelligence.

"It's kind of wonderful that there's been this really large number of penguins breeding on these small islands in a remote part of Antarctica that sort of slipped under the radar for so long", co-author Michael Polito, an oceanography professor at Louisiana State University, told As It Happens host Carol Off. Is it connected to the expanded ocean ice condition over yonder? It would be the biggest populace of Adelie penguins on the Antarctica promontory, and recommends that this species is completing a great deal superior to anything scientists expected in spite of decreases on the western side of the Antarctic landmass because of environmental change. It's believed climate change, including "changes in sea ice extent and concentration as well as changes in air temperature and precipitation patterns and their possible effects on prey availability" are the primary culprits for the decline in Adelie penguins in western Antarctica. Results from that survey, which found 751,527 pairs of nesting Adelie penguins on the islands, were published Friday as an open-access article in the scientific journal Nature Scientific Reports.

To confirm it, a combined team of researchers arranged an expedition to the islands.

After heading to the remote island in December 2015 to investigate, the professors, along with a seabird ecologist from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in MA and other experts, said they found hundreds of thousands of birds nesting in the rocky soil.

Lynch said that the discovery of the new penguin population will have "real consequences for how we manage this region", which is being considered in the designation of future Marine Protected Areas in the region.

"We want to understand why".

"But it also reinforces the urgency to protect the waters off the coast of Antarctica to safeguard Adélie penguins from the dual threats of overfishing and climate change".

Evidence of the previously-unknown penguin colony first emerged in data from the Landsat Earth-monitoring satellites run by NASA and the US Geological Survey.

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