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Colony collapse cause for concern

Where have all the penguins gone?

Over the last week a concerning report from Halley Bay has been making newspapers around the world.

The bay is Antarctica’s second largest emperor penguin breeding ground. Or, at least, it was. After three years of very few actual births being recorded this year looks to be another disastrous result.

Scientists studying Halley Bay believe the destruction of “fast ice” (sea ice connected to land) from climate and weather change has had a tragic affect on the breeding conditions required by the penguins.

Historically approximately 8% of the emperor penguin population usually breeds here. That’s 15,000 to 24,000 breeding pairs. While a nearby breeding area has increased with the standstill at Halley Bay a study has shown this is not close to the amount missing.

As study author Phil Trathan, head of conservation biology at the British Antarctic Survey, states, “We’ve never seen a breeding failure on a scale like this in 60 years.”

This is disastrous news for the penguins and a stark warning for the wider implications of climate change.

 

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