Thousands Of Penguin Chicks Likely Died In Sea Ice Breakup

4 out of 5 emperor penguin colonies in Antarctica’s Bellingshausen Sea skilled “complete breeding failure” final 12 months after the ocean ice younger chicks must survive broke up sooner than regular.

Researchers with the British Antarctic Survey used satellite tv for pc photographs to trace sea ice and the presence of penguins on the ice. Their findings have been revealed on Thursday within the journal Communications Earth & Setting.

“It’s a grim story,” lead research creator Dr. Peter Fretwell informed The Guardian. “I used to be shocked. It’s very laborious to think about these cute fluffy chicks dying in giant numbers.”

An emperor penguin chick.An emperor penguin chick.

Vladimir Seliverstov / 500px by way of Getty Pictures

Greater than 9,000 chicks doubtless died in all, in keeping with The Washington Publish. Emperor penguins lay eggs in Might or June, and the chicks hatch after 65 days. Nevertheless it takes the younger birds till December or January to develop waterproof feathers, which means they need to keep on stable ice earlier than that. When the ice breaks up too early, the chicks can fall into the ocean and drown or freeze, in keeping with the BBC.

The research notes that localized sea ice loss has prompted chick deaths prior to now, however such widespread “catastrophic breeding failure” is new and alarming.

“Now we have by no means seen emperor penguins fail to breed, at this scale, in a single season,” Fretwell informed NBC Information.

A group of adult and juvenile emperor penguins.

A gaggle of grownup and juvenile emperor penguins.

Vladimir Seliverstov / 500px by way of Getty Pictures

Cassandra Brooks, an Antarctica researcher and assistant professor on the College of Colorado Boulder who was not concerned within the analysis, informed CNN that the research provides to a rising pile of proof that human-caused climate change might simply be a dying sentence for the birds.

“There’s mounting proof that emperor penguins may very well go extinct immediately because of lack of sea ice ensuing from our planet’s warming,” she mentioned. “Our window by which to make sure their survival is narrowing.”