A Hidden 1.5 Million Penguins 'Supercolony' Has Been Discovered From Space

A Hidden 1.5 Million Penguins 'Supercolony' Has Been Discovered From Space

"Not only do the Danger Islands hold the largest population of Adélie penguins on the Antarctic Peninsula, they also appear to have not suffered the population declines found along the western side of Antarctic Peninsula that are associated with recent climate change", says Polito.

The find "is certainly surprising and it has real consequences for how we manage this region", study co-author Heather Lynch of Stony Brook University told AFP. Using neural network analysis of drone images they took of the colony, the scientists were able to determine the size of the population, as well as how changing temperatures and sea ice are impacting the island ecosystem.

If you ever find yourself hanging out on Antarctica's Danger Islands, we hope you like penguins.

Dr Hart commented: "On the West Antarctic Peninsula, Adelie and chinstrap penguins are declining pretty fast, while Gentoo penguins are increasing".

Even in the summer, the nearby ocean is filled with thick sea ice.

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.

There, they found hundreds of thousands of penguins crammed in the rocky soil.

Evidence of the previously-unknown penguin colony first emerged in data from the Landsat Earth-monitoring satellites run by NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey.

Lynch and her team "then went and looked at higher resolution commercial imagery to confirm the guano staining that our algorithms had picked up in the Landsat imagery", she said.

Numbering more than 1.5 million birds, they were first noticed when great patches of their poo, or guano, showed up in pictures taken from space. It now calls the Danger Islands a "seabird hotspot".

"Despite our modern technologically advanced world there are still remote corners that we know very little about - usually because they are extremely hard to get to", he said.

But it may need protection from overfishing nevertheless.

"Given that MPA proposals are based in the best available science, this publication helps to highlight the importance of this area for protection", she says.

They are carnivores, and krill - shrimp-like creatures that are commercially fished in the area - is an Adelie staple.

And Dr Lynch added: "The other point worth making is that these islands are right in the mix for a couple of marine protected areas that are being proposed".

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