Climate change has placed emperor penguins living in Antarctica in severe danger of extinction. A researcher at the Argentine Antarctic Institute (IAA) believes they might disappear within 30 to 40 years because they rely on the ice to complete their life cycles.
Unlike the Adelia penguins, also endemic to Antarctica, who build nests, the emperor penguins reproduce on marine ice.
“When the ice platform loses stability, the little penguins – the ones that are growing, the chicks of that season – might not have their feathers, they might not be ready to go to the sea,” Marcela Libertelli, biologist and head of Top Predators Department at IAA, told the Reuters agency.
“The ground they rest on, where the colony is developing, breaks and if the water reaches them, they are not ready to swim, they do not have their definitive grown-up waterproof feathers, and they die because of the cold and drown,” she added.
Antarctica’s emperor penguins are at serious risk of extinction as a result of climate change the Argentine Antarctic Institute warned https://t.co/GuoueP6l6M pic.twitter.com/r6vdoDHLcE
— Reuters (@Reuters) May 6, 2022
Every year Argentine scientists go to the Marambio Base during August, Austral winter. There, they travel 65 kilometres (40.39 miles) to reach the nearest colonies. They count the chicks, record the geographic coordinates, collect blood samples, weigh and measure the penguins.
“The [Climatic] projections that exist, foresee that the colonies [of emperor penguins] located between latitudes 60 and 70 degrees [south] will disappear in the next decades, say in the next 30/40 years,” Ms Libertelli said.
In early April, the World Meteorological Organisation warned about the more extreme temperatures, unusual rains and ice slides in Antarctica.