Penguin super colony found thriving on Danger Islands

Penguin super colony found thriving on Danger Islands

Penguin super colony found thriving on Danger Islands

Scientists have reported the discovery of a supercolony of Adelie penguins in Antarctica which host more than 1.5 million birds.

It is also the only island to date with a population estimate (285,000-305,000) derived from a ground survey of the island. However, a paper published in the journal Scientific Reports sheds light on a hidden penguin super-colony of Adélie penguins which were never counted before.

Heather Lynch, an associate professor of ecology at Stony Brook University, found guano stains on satellite imagery of the Danger Islands (yes, really).

So a team of researchers headed out on another expedition to the islands in 2015. Counting them by hand and using drone surveys they found there were 751,527 pairs of penguins on the islands - more than the rest of the Antarctic Peninsula combined.

"The timing of this research is really fortuitous because the marine protected areas were proposed before", Polito said. Piecing the photos together later, they were able to clearly count the black back of penguins atop nests in comparison to the light-colored land below them. An impenetrable barrier of sea ice typically isolates the nesting areas from fishing fleets intent on harvesting the krill.

"The area is covered by heavy sea ice most of the year, and even in the height of summer it is hard to get into this region to do surveys".

A secret kingdom of thousands of Adélie penguins has just been discovered in Antarctica.

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Dr Hart commented: "On the West Antarctic Peninsula, Adelie and chinstrap penguins are declining pretty fast, while Gentoo penguins are increasing". It also offers a valuable benchmark for future change in the species, and it will lend valuable evidence for supporting Marine Protected Areas near the Antarctic Peninsula.

"The water around the island boiled with penguins", said Polito. To discover without a doubt, Lynch cooperated with Stephanie Jenouvrier, a seabird environmentalist at WHOI, Mike Polito at LSU and Tom Hart at Oxford University to mastermind a campaign to the islands with the objective of tallying the winged creatures firsthand.

Of course, Polito knew that he couldn't count the penguins by hand, as the counting would be inaccurate and extremely hard.

"We want to understand why".

"Whether they'll be in or out, we don't know but at least now the people making those decisions will understand how important this area is", she told BBC News.

"The sheer size of what we were looking at took our breath away", one of the researchers with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), Dr.

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