One study estimates that up to 10,000 emperor penguin chicks could have died due to melting sea ice by the end of 2022.
Mainly in the Bellingshausen Sea, on the southern edge of Antarctica, rising temperatures caused the ice on which the penguins nested to begin to crack and literally break under the penguins’ feet, before their chicks could develop. waterproof adult feathers.
“The key finding is that penguins nest in sea ice and need that substrate to last beyond December in order to successfully support their breeding season. If it breaks before early December, the chicks fall into the sea and drown.” .” explains Norman Ratcliffe, a researcher with the British Antarctic Survey.
“If they do make it out of the sea, that plumage gets wet and they will die of hypothermia. Alternatively, they can stay on ice floes, but they drift away and then the parents can’t find them and they will starve,” Ratcliffe laments.
Although it is known that the populations can compensate for these losses, which have already happened on other occasions, this time it was especially serious. According to the scientists, of 62 known emperor penguin colonies, 19 were adversely affected and 13 probably failed to produce offspring.
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