Penguins are clumsy when walking, but agile in the water. What can be said about them is that they always dress elegantly. But they are disappearing. It was detected by the conservation organization Greenpeace. He reports that the population of penguins decreases dramatically in Antarctica. Much more than expected. The scientists who accompany the NGO in their expedition "From Polo to Polo" have found notable decreases in the colonies that populate the Antarctic continent. The population of penguins decreases dramatically, and it seems that it will not stop.
Experts have analyzed 35 populations of chinstrap penguins (Pygoscelis antarcticus). They reached alarming conclusions. The colonies have been reduced by an average of 60% since the last count made in 1971. But in some cases that reduction is much more pronounced, reaching 77%. The previous surveys pointed to 122,550 couples. Current data, 52,786, a much lower population. The way the penguin population decreases is critical.
“These significant declines suggest that the Southern Ocean ecosystem has changed. Especially in the last half century. This change is affecting the food chain of species such as chinstrap penguins. All the evidence we have points to climate change as responsible for the changes we are seeing, ”says Dr. Heather J. Lynch, Professor of Ecology and Evolution at Stony Brook University in New York. She is the principal investigator of the expedition. The announcement coincides with other devastating news. Last day On February 8, Antarctica broke its historical record for maximum temperature, reaching 18.3ºC, according to the measurements of the Argentine base Esperanza. The previous record of 17.5ºC had been set in March 2015.
Artificial intelligence to the rescue
The team of scientists at Stony Brook and Northeastern Universities examined a fairly significant series of chinstrap penguins from Low Island. Manual topography, drones and artificial intelligence techniques were used. This is the first time that the island, which is believed to have around 100,000 breeding pairs of chinstrap penguins, has been properly sampled from the ground.
“A world with less penguins is a worse place. As wildlife struggles for its survival, we urgently need to establish sanctuaries free of harmful human activity. Not only in Antarctica, but in all oceans. So they can adapt to our changing climate. To do that, it is imperative that governments agree to a Global Ocean Treaty this year, ”said Pilar Marcos, a Greenpeace marine biologist.
The expedition documented for more than a year the threats to the world's oceans. It is part of a campaign to demand the creation of a marine sanctuary for 30% of the planet's oceans by 2030.