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a close up of a penguin

The wonderful discovery of a 1.5 million ‘mega-colony’ of Adélie penguins last year lifted the spirits of conservation guardians. Now the case is being made for greater protection measures around the colony and it’s surrounding environment.

The Adélie penguin population monitored by scientists has dropped by 65% in the last 25 years. A Guardian article argues for the importance of the colony:

 “Over the last seven years, thousands of chicks have died in a “catastrophic breeding failure” in the west of the Antarctic peninsula. So the discovery of an additional 1.5 million Adélie penguins… is the conservation equivalent of finding a substantive amount of change down the back of a sofa on the day rent is due.”

Late last year a proposal was put forward at the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources’ (CCAMLR) meeting in Hobart. This proposal was to create an Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary covering 1.8 million square kilometres around the colony’s Weddel Sea home.

Unfortunately any proposal needs to be supported unanimously. New Zealand and 21 out of the 25 nations voted for it. Unfortunately China, Russia and Norway effectively blocked the motion.

The Ross Sea sanctuary took many years of dedicated work behind the scenes before ultimately being recognised in 2016. Let’s hope that this important Weddell Sea area is protected at the CCAMLR meeting in October.