Scientists find a previously unknown mega-colony of penguins on Antarctic islands

Cesar Mills
March 4, 2018

What's insane is that before this, no one really thought the remote rocky chain of islands off the Antarctic Peninsula's northwestern tip was home to penguins - let alone 1.5 million of them.

"I only had a couple hours on the island, and it was late in the breeding season so there wasn't many adults on land - but there was lots and lots of poop", he said. There is no motivation behind why that couldn't occur to those on the east side also, and scientists will watch those penguins intently in the coming years.

A massive collective of penguins forming a super colony have been discovered in a part of Antarctica that hasn't been impacted by climate change.

A team of global scientists, including two from Louisiana State University, have discovered that 1.5 million Adelie penguins have been hidden in plain sight on the nine ice-covered and rocky outcrops that make up the Danger Islands on the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula.

Professors from Stony Brook University in NY say they discovered the enormous colony of Adélie Penguins, which live on the Antarctic continent, when they noticed the penguins' feces, or guano, in NASA satellite imagery of the islands. The Danger Islands are surrounded by treacherous waters and are almost inaccessible in even the peak of summer, since the ocean nearby remains covered with thick sea ice. Where there are penguin droppings, there are most certainly penguins, and the stains, visible from space, suggested there were a large number of them.

Dr. Tom Hart told BBC News: "It's a classic case of finding something where no-one really looked!"

WHOI Northeastern University Courtesy Thomas Sayre McChord Hanumant Singh
WHOI Northeastern University Courtesy Thomas Sayre McChord Hanumant Singh

The incredible discovery was captured using a video drone, which snapped the countless birds on their remote and risky island home from the air.

"The drone lets you fly in a grid over the island, taking pictures once per second. You can then stitch them together into a huge collage that shows the entire landmass in 2D and 3D", said the research's co-author Hanumant Singh, Professor of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at Northeastern University. However, the discovery is providing new insights into the penguin species. Nevertheless, when Polito visited the islands, the ice appeared to be low.

"The waters around the Danger Islands have been free from the pressures of krill fishing and have thrived".

Having the capacity to get a precise include of the feathered creatures this supercolony offers a significant benchmark for future change, also, notes Jenouvrier. This meant there were more Adélie penguins in the Danger Islands than in the rest of the Antartica Peninsula combined, as the researchers report in the study, which was published in Scientific Reports. We need to comprehend why.

'We were... very lucky to have a window of time where the sea ice moved out and we could get a yacht in, ' said Lynch.

"And the sheer scale of what we saw, gasped, said Dr".

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