Adelie penguin colony chicks wiped out
A colony of more than 18,000 pairs of Adelie penguins in Antarctica have suffered a catastrophic breeding season with just two chicks surviving, wildlife experts say.
Scientists say an unusually extensive sea-ice late in the summer — despite low ice early in the season — is being blamed because the penguins had to travel further for food and the chicks starved along the way.
Conservation group WWF says the devastating breeding season proves waters off East Antarctica must be protected from fishing fleets that make it harder for penguins to find a key food source, krill.
The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources will meet on Monday to consider a proposal for a new marine protected area for the waters off East Antarctica.
A marine protected area, which would prevent krill fishing, would help to secure a future for the wildlife of East Antarctica, including Adelie and emperor penguins, WWF said.
This same colony that failed to breed chicks this year failed to produce a single chick four years ago from 20,196 adult pairs, with heavy sea-ice, unusually warm weather and rain after a drop in temperature leaving many chicks saturated and freezing to death.
Rod Downie, head of polar programs at WWF said: “The risk of opening up this area to exploratory krill fisheries, which would compete with the Adelie penguins for food as they recover from two catastrophic breeding failures in four years, is unthinkable.”
Adelie penguins on an Antarctic ice floe.