A flourishing hidden 1.5 million penguins ‘supercolony’ has just been observed on some islands in Antarctica, known as the Danger Islands, announced scientists, today, March 2nd.
Surprisingly, the newly discovered colony is formed of 1.5 million Adelie penguins, the very same species of penguins that, only 160 kilometers west of the Danger Islands, are dying due to ice melting.
Even more astonishing for the researchers is that the penguins’ colony on the Danger Islands is formed of approximately 750,000 families (breeding pairs) of Adelie penguins, which represent a lot more than all the Antarctic Peninsula Adelie families.
The discovery was published today in the journal Scientific Reports.
“Is certainly surprising and it has real consequences for how we manage this region,” explained Heather Lynch, the study’s author and a researcher at the Stony Brook University.
The hidden 1.5 million penguins ‘supercolony’ has been discovered from space
The Danger Islands are always covered with ice and even during the summer, the temperatures on the islands are favoring penguins proliferation. But, these very characteristics of the island made the almost impossible to be directly studied by men and no one has adventured there.
However, thanks to the Landsat satellite, ran jointly by the NASA and the US Geological Survey, the researchers were able to make this discovery.
Landsat satellite offered images showing lots of penguins’ guano (excrements of the penguins) suggesting that the Danger Islands are inhabited by hundreds of thousands of penguins. At first, the scientists considered the Landsat images were a mistake or error of some kind but researchers went for a field exploration.
“We were surprised to find so many penguins on these islands, especially because some of these islands were not known to have penguins,” admitted Heather Lynch.
The scientists who have discovered the hidden 1.5 million penguins ‘supercolony’ admitted that the Danger Islands have never been considered suitable for penguins colonies but since these islands were affected less by the global warming in comparison with the rest of Antarctica, this discovery makes sense.