Previously unknown 'supercolony' of Adélie penguins discovered in Antarctica

A thriving super colony of some 1.5 million Adelie penguins has been discovered on the remote Danger Islands in the east Antarctic surprised scientists announced. Just 100 miles away in the west Antarctic the same species is in decline

Amazing drone pics reveal MILLIONS of penguins in Antarctic 'mega-colonies'

A previously unknown "supercolony" of more than 1.5 million Adélie Penguins has been discovered in remote rocky islands of Antarctica.

Polito and his team visited the islands, and had the luck of visiting it at a time when the sea ice levels were low and the penguins were nesting there and weren't traveling. It should stay that way.

She said that among the reasons why these supercolonies have been undetected for decades are the remoteness of the islands and the treacherous waters surrounding them.

Adélie penguins only exist in Antarctica, and their populations have seen a marked decline along most of the western side of the peninsula, where rising temperatures tied to man-made climate change have melted sea ice.

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The proposal for an Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary has been submitted by the European Union and will be considered when the Antarctic Ocean Commission next convenes, in October 2018. "You can then stitch them together into a huge collage that shows the entire landmass in 2D and 3D", explained Prof Hanumant Singh from Northeastern University.

To find out what was going on, the team launched an expedition in 2015 with the goal of seeing for themselves if there were actually penguins there.

He later returned to count them with an worldwide team of field scientists in 2015. As developer of the drone's imaging and navigation system, he arranged for his team to use neural network software to analyze the massive images pixel by pixel, finding the penguin nests autonomously. Even in the southern summer the surrounding ocean is filled with near inaccessible thick sea ice.

Now that scientists know where the Adélie Penguins are, they can also work to protect them. But thanks to satellite imagery, a scientist with a hunch (really), and some plucky drone flyers, the city-sized penguin population has made itself known.

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So, everybody, let's say hi to the new supercolony of Adélie Penguins. "I hope this provides impetus for a marine protected area in the Danger Islands with expanded borders from what has been proposed", Lynch says. "Food availability? That's something we don't know", said Stephanie Jenouvrier, a seabird ecologist at WHOI.

Satellite images and aerial photography from drones calculated and revealed total 751,527 pairs of penguins. It will also help them understand why there are more penguins on the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula than the western side.

"It's not clear what the driver of those declines is yet; the candidates are climate change, fishing and direct human disturbance, but it does show the size of the problem".

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