The threat of extinction hangs over penguins. Care2 bloggers have written about the precipitous drop among the Adélie and African penguins. While the film “March of the Penguins” was popular, a lot of attention focused on the 13 species of penguins (out of 18) that are threatened or endangered.
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) biologist Stephanie Jenouvrier has been studying the Emperor penguin and reports the Dion Islets colony dropped from 150 breeding pairs in 1948 to none in 2009. She and her colleagues warn that if global temperatures continue to rise, the Terre Adélie penguins may also disappear.
The species relies on sea ice for breeding and raising their chicks. Disappearing ice increases the already high mortality among Emperor chicks. It also robs them of their food source, in a chain of losses that starts with plankton that grows beneath the ice and moves through the krill, squid and fish that feed on the plankton.
Jenouvrier says: “Our best projections show roughly 500 to 600 breeding pairs remaining by the year 2100. Today, the population size is around 3000 breeding pairs.”
Next page: Chinstraps Disappearing; Humans to Blame
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