Terrible news has arrived directly from the southernmost continent. Due to a terrible environment in Antarctica, penguins had to leave their babies to find food for both of them. Unfortunately, time passed, and the parents didn’t come back until it was too late. Just two chicks remained alive in a colony of almost 40,000 seabirds after all the other little penguins starved to death. One expert described this situation as “Tarantino does Happy Feet.”
Animal Campaigners have announced their concerns about the “catastrophic breeding failure,” where around 18,000 pairs of Adélie penguins lost their babies. The causes to explain why penguins had to leave Terre Adélie are very complicated – including global warming, local sea-ice factors, and more. What’s certain is that this situation is not new: it’s been a while since penguins, whales, and other animals started experiencing these terrible changes on their environment.
The World Wildlife Fund announced that penguin colonies in the East Antarctica had faced unseasonably extensive amounts of sea ice, forcing them to travel further than usual to find and bring their babies food. Adélie penguins feed on small crustacea called krill, which is “generally faring well in East Antarctica,” according to a statement from the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).
Thousands of baby animals dying represent a catastrophe everywhere, no matter the species. But, despite the fact that the amount of penguin is huge, this kind of event poses an immense threat to them while they’re in such deplorable conditions.
Adélie penguins have also been dying because climate change produces higher temperatures in the Antarctica, provoking cold rains and freezing them to death.
“This devastating event contrasts with the image that many people might have penguins,” said Rod Downie, Head of Polar Programs at WWF. “It’s more like ‘Tarantino does Happy Feet’, with dead penguin chicks strewn across a beach in Adélie Land… The impact of this catastrophic event is confined to this specific colony of Adélie penguins, predictions are that the Antarctic will get warmer and this may pose different challenges in the longer term.”
There could be a solution
Of course, Antarctica has also to face illegal fishing-traders who mess up with both the wildlife and glaciers. For solving this, some experts consider that the area stays open for big-fishers, including the krill fishing industry. However, there are others who think this would lead to a rapid ending of shrimp-like crustacean – which would also end with the penguins of the zone.
Next week, some environmental groups and officials will meet in Hobart, Australia. They announced that the creation of a new Marine Protected Area (MPA) for the waters off eastern Antarctica was one of their points to treat. This would ultimately close the area to krill fisheries, forming a safer breeding ground for the penguins.
The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) created last year the largest marine sanctuary in the Ross Sea in Antarctica.
“The region is impacted by environmental changes that are linked to the breakup of the Mertz glacier since 2010,” Yan Ropert-Coudert, lead researcher on the Adélie penguin program at France’s National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), said in a statement. “An MPA will not remedy these changes but it could prevent further impacts that direct anthropogenic pressures, such as tourism and proposed fisheries, could bring.”