A worrying study has brought the world in a state of bewilderment during the last couple of days, by revealing the fact that nearly 150,000 Arctic penguins have been wiped out due to a giant iceberg, which destroyed their food supply. But is the Adélie penguin colony really gone? Maybe not, according to Michelle LaRue, penguin population expert at the University of Minnesota.
According to original reports, a B09B iceberb collided with the Mertz Glacier Tongue back in 2010, getting stuck in Commonwealth Bay. This was an area where penguin populations used to thrive, since it had very little sea-ice.
The B09B, which is around 1,120 square miles, managed to restrict the penguins’ food supply ever since that fateful day, which determined the aquatic birds to travel over 37 miles in order to find food, thus reducing their population significantly.
This phenomenon was explained in a study published in the journal Antarctic Science by a group of researchers from the Climate Change Research Center in Australia and New Zealand’s West Coast Penguin Trust.
Chris Fogwill, who is a co-author of this study, says that the team found many dead young carcasses, which suggests the fact that the Adélie penguin population may not be coming back to that area.
Their research was conducted between 2013-2014 and it concludes the fact that with so many of their colony members dead and with their breeding cycles forcibly changed, it is quite possible that the Adélie penguin population will simply disappear in 20 years.
However, throughout all these dark scenarios, there is still one person who wishes to cast a positive note on all of this. Researcher Michelle LaRue believes that just because people cannot observe these birds in the Commonwealth Bay area anymore doesn’t mean that they’ve necessarily died and that no one can tell for sure what happened to them.
She further explains that it is quite common for these types of penguin populations to have a few dead birds nearby, because the extremely low temperatures of Antarctica make it very difficult for carcasses to decompose.
LaRue continues to say that even though 150,000 dead Adélie penguins would represent a significant loss, it would not be a catastrophic one, considering the fact that Antarctica used to house around 7 million of this species just five years ago.
However, professor Chris Turney, lead author of the study, thinks that with the current global warming we might see even more icebergs in the near future, which means that these types of environmental changes and migration phases could be a common occurrence from now on.
Image Source: Birdsnews