Scientists find new penguins in Antarctica

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Scientists find new penguins in Antarctica

Photo: New Scientist

Scientists have discovered a new colony of emperor penguins in Antarctica with the help of satellite images, and this is already the 66th known colony  on the coast of Antarctica, almost half of them were found using satellites, according to the British Antarctic Survey.

The study used images obtained by the Copernicus Sentinel-2 system and Maxar WorldView-3. Droppings that stood out against the background of ice and rock helped identify traces of the movement of the penguins.

Emperor penguins need sea ice to breed. These birds are quite difficult to study, as they are often found in hard-to-reach regions where temperatures drop to -60 degrees Celsius. For the past 15 years, scientists from the British Antarctic Survey have been discovering new colonies using litter marks visible on satellite imagery.

“This is an exciting discovery. New satellite imagery of the coastline of Antarctica has allowed us to discover many new colonies. And while this is good news, like many of the newly discovered locations, this colony is small and located in a region that has been hit hard by the recent disappearance of sea ice,” said study lead author Peter Fretwell.

Emperor penguins suffer from loss of sea ice they need during their breeding season. With current climate change projections, this habitat is likely to shrink. According to the latest models, with current warming trends, 80% of the colonies will actually become extinct by the end of the century.

Prepared by: Nina Petrovich

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