Adelie colony in Antarctica faces extinction as giant iceberg blocks sea

A massive nature drama involving some 10,000 Adélie penguins and an iceberg is playing out in an Antarctic bay opposite Australia. Scientists fear the colossal ice heap is blocking the birds from feeding in the sea, and they have already stopped hatching.

The iceberg named B09B, which hit the Commonwealth Bay in 2011, is the size of a small country. It has cut off the birds’ food supply and altered their environment.

Researchers in their study ‘”The impact of the giant iceberg B09B on population size and breeding success of Adélie penguins in Commonwealth Bay, Antarctica’ Science”,they found that the sea ice extended up to 60 kilometers across East Antarctica’s Commonwealth Bay in 2013 and the penguin colony at Cape Denison now has a 120-kilometer journey to feed at the sea ice edge, leaving a devastating impact on the population.

About a century ago, it was estimated that around 100,000 penguins made their base at Cape Denison.There are now less than 10,000 left, according to the research team, which also noted the remaining penguins were docile and that many were not hatching eggs.

The researchers found, however, that an Adélie population “on the eastern fringe of Commonwealth Bay, just 8 km, from the fast ice edge was thriving, indicating the arrival of B09B and fast ice expansion” were the probable factors behind the population decline at Cape Denison.

They also noted hundreds of abandoned eggs and “freeze-dried carcasses of the previous season’s chicks” on the ground.

-More at RT

 

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