Satellite mapping discovers new colony of emperor penguins

Satellite tv for pc mapping expertise has uncovered one other new colony of the critically endangered emperor penguins in Antarctica, researchers mentioned on Friday.

The discover, introduced by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) to mark Penguin Consciousness Day, brings the full variety of identified emperor penguin breeding websites on the Antarctic coast to 66.

It is the most recent in a collection of emperor penguin breeding websites found utilizing satellite tv for pc expertise.

18 species of penguins

The birds, that are endemic to Antarctica and, at round 1.2 metres, are the biggest of the 18 penguin species, have been virtually utterly worn out by local weather change and the lack of sea ice.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service final yr put emperor penguins, which want sea ice for breeding, on its endangered species record, calling the transfer “an alarm bell” and a “name to motion.”

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Current projections counsel that underneath present warming traits, 80 p.c of colonies will probably be nearly extinct by the tip of the century.

BAS scientists found the latest web site, residence to round 500 birds, by figuring out indicators of penguin excrement, referred to as guano, within the panorama at Verleger Level in West Antarctica.

Guano dyes the snow and rocky terrain brown and is simple to identify, whereas the flightless birds themselves are too small to be seen from satellites.

– ‘Excellent news’ –

Researchers examined photos from the EU’s Copernicus Sentinel-2 satellite tv for pc mission and in contrast them to high-resolution footage from the MAXAR WorldView3 satellite tv for pc.

Peter Fretwell, who research wildlife from area at BAS and was lead creator of the analysis that unveiled the discover, referred to as it “thrilling” however warned the existential danger to the birds stays.

“Whereas that is excellent news, like most of the lately found websites, this colony is small and is situated in a area that has been severely affected by latest sea ice loss,” he mentioned.

Emperor penguins are present in areas which might be very troublesome to review as a result of they’re distant, inaccessible and very chilly, with temperatures as little as minus 60 levels Celsius (-76 Fahrenheit), based on the BAS.

Its researchers have been trying to find new colonies by looking satellite tv for pc imagery for penguin guano for 15 years.

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The expertise too helped the BAS notice a “catastrophic” breeding failure within the second largest emperor colony in Antarctica between 2016 and 2019.

Nearly all the chicks born over the three years died as their frigid Antarctic habitat shrank as a result of unseasonably heat and stormy climate broke important sea ice.

Emperors rose to worldwide fame in 2005 with the documentary March of the Penguins, depicting their annual march throughout the frozen wastes, and the 2006 animated movie Completely happy Ft.