According to a recent World Wildlife Fund (WWF) for Nature report, 2017 was a disastrous breeding year for a colony of almost 40,000 Adélie penguins living in Antarctica. Reportedly, only two Adélie penguin chicks are still alive after an unusual event that affected the breeding season all throughout the summer.
Adélie Penguin Chicks, Victims of Nature
The affected colony resides in a region of East Antarctica known as Adélie Land or Adélie Terre. This is a region of the continent discovered in the 1840’s, by Jules Dumont, and currently under the rule of France. It is also what a colony of more than 18,000 pairs of Adélie call home.
The WWF statement declares that this penguin species is “generally faring well” in the region. In contrast, they are on the downward path in the Antarctic peninsula as an effect of climate change.
Also, an unusual event has led to a disastrous breeding season for the East Antarctica colony. According to the report, an “unusually extensive sea ice” lasted late into the summer.
Because of this, adult penguins had to travel and search for food farther away then they might have been used to. Even so, reports point out that their efforts in foraging for food were seemingly not enough as many of the Adélie penguin chicks are believed to have starved.
Only two chicks are said to have survived this mating season.
As pointed out, this is also not the first time that the East Antarctica Adélie penguin faced difficulties during their mating season. Four years ago, their breeding activity was affected by “unusual environmental conditions”, that occurred both on land and on sea. No chick survived the 2013 – 2014 season.
‘Adélie penguins are one of the hardiest and most amazing animals on our planet. This devastating event contrasts with the image that many people might have of penguins,” states Rod Downie, the WWF’s Head of Polar Programmes.
Adélie penguins feed mostly on krill, so the WWF is also worried about the effects of opening krill fisheries in the area. This might further worsen the species’ feeding prospects.
Image Source: Wikipedia