Getty Images | Wolfgang Kaehler

World's Second-Largest Emperor Penguin Colony Has Been Wiped Out

Emily Reily 25 Apr 2019

The world's second-largest colony of emperor penguins has disappeared, according to a research study that was published this week.

Last Few Years Have Been Tough For Emperor Penguins

The research was conducted by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and published in the journal Atlantic Science on Thursday, according to The Hill.

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Changes In Sea Ice Have Been Affected Over the Years

Getty Images | Wolfgang Kaehler

The scientists' research states that there have been changes in the sea ice of at least one breeding colony -- at Halley Bay in Antarctica. Over the last three years, the population there has shrunk dramatically.

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Lack of Environment -- Less Breeding

Breeding failures have been pegged to "severe changes" in penguins' local environment.

The BAS report states that things started happening in 2016: “For the last 60 years the sea-ice conditions in the Halley Bay site have been stable and reliable. But in 2016, after a period of abnormally stormy weather, the sea-ice broke up in October, well before any emperor chicks would have fledged.”

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Moving day?

However, is it possible that many have simply jumped ship for another, more ideal place to breed? A nearby colony has grown in size:

“The colony at Halley Bay colony has now all but disappeared, whilst the nearby Dawson Lambton colony has markedly increased in size, indicating that many of the adult emperors have moved there, seeking better breeding grounds as environmental conditions have changed,” according to researchers.

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"Failure To Breed Is Unprecedented"

Unsplash | Ian Parker

Researchers used satellite imagery to help come up with the data.

"It is impossible to say whether the changes in sea-ice conditions at Halley Bay are specifically related to climate change, but such a complete failure to breed successfully is unprecedented at this site.”

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