Up until 2016, Antarctica’s Halley Bay was the second-largest breeding ground for emperor penguins. And then in one year, they were gone. Between 15 and 24 thousand birds and they haven’t been back since. Researchers with the British Antarctic Survey soon found out why. The sea ice on which the penguins breed and raise their chicks have blown out, disappeared. The ice disappeared due to a strong El Nino that causes unusually warm waters, but what happened to all those penguins?
We’ve been seeing the colony at Halley Bay getting smaller and smaller, even the adults, but another colony about 30 miles to the South has been growing, and about maybe over half of the adults now have walked and left Halley Bay, and started to breed at this colony 30 miles to the South.
Fred Well says this is good news, because it suggests penguins are adapting to a rapidly changing climate and they’re going to need to keep adapting. Well then, we can say we predict that the climate change, El Nino events will get stronger and we’ll get more storm events and it’s not just Halley Bay that’s melting. This entire part of the continent is at risk. We’re all seeing the Antarctic Peninsula is rapidly warming. Not the whole Antarctic, but one particular area is warming. We’re seeing ice loss in many areas, and we’re seeing, we’re predicting storm events and El Ninos are going to get bigger. If these warming events keep happening, studies suggest the world population of emperor penguin could decline by as much as 20% the century.
Kevin Enochs, VOA News.