Antarctica’s penguins threatened by global warming


Reuters – December 11, 2007

Penguins are especially appreciated by humans, at least in the US.  There are countless movies which feature them as interesting and cute animals.  Due to their coloring, they are often depicted as uppity butlers in many children cartoons.  Even Batman had a few battles with Penguin.

So when a study suggests that harm has come to these animals, many people take notice.  They are much more attractive to us than polar bears which, while cuddly as stuffed animals, are fairly ferocious animals.It is a little unfortunate though that the penguins are getting the attention since it appears that the penguins are reducing in numbers because krill are reducing in numbers.  Why isn’t this article entitled: “Antarctica’s krill threatened by global warming” rather than the one that was chosen.  Krill are kind of ugly so that must be the reason. At least Nemo appears to be safe!

This is a fairly strong study.  Most previous studies did not have the credibility that this one does in documenting the reduction of the birds and the contributing factor of reduced krill.  I do wish that someone would study the krill in more detail and determine that it is really the reduction of sea ice in West Antarctica that is causing their reduced numbers.  Something doesn’t seem right in that regard – how does the lack of sea ice reduce the krill population.

Antarctica’s penguin population has slumped because of global warming as melting ice has destroyed nesting sites and reduced their sources of food

The Antarctic peninsula is warming five times faster than the average in the rest of the world, affecting four penguin species — the emperor penguin, the largest and the grandest in the world, the gentoo, chinstrap and adelie

…sea ice covered 40 per cent less area than it did 26 years ago off the West Antarctic Peninsula, leading to a fall in stocks of krill, the main source of food for the chinstrap and gentoo penguins.

Warmer temperatures and stronger winds mean the penguins had to raise their chicks on increasingly thinner sea ice which tends to break off early while many eggs and chicks have been blown away before they were able to survive on their own.

You can read the entire press release on this here.

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