There are more than 60 known emperor penguin colonies living on the coast of Antarctica, but more than half of them would have remained undetected if they had not been monitored from space, as satellite images helped discover 33 out of 66 groups by tracking bird feces, which is the color Brown and easy to spot when smeared by large patches of sea ice.
According to the British newspaper “Daily Mail”, among the 66, a new colony of about 500 penguins was discovered at Verleger Point, West Antarctica.
Emperor penguins are losing sea ice, their favorite breeding ground, and if this continues to decline, the animal population will suffer greatly.
Current climate models predict that 80% of colonies will be “nearly extinct” by the end of the century. This is when a population may be doomed to extinction even if there are still surviving individuals, and even under the best-case scenario, as the degree of extinction increases. If the global temperature drops by 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 degrees Celsius), experts say the emperor penguin population is expected to drop by at least 31% over the next three generations, so the discovery of this colony was a good thing.
“This is an exciting discovery,” said Dr Peter Fretwell of the British Antarctic Survey, who studies wildlife from space and the principal investigator of the research into uncovering this new colony. “New satellite images of the coast of Antarctica have enabled us to find Many new colonies
While this is good news, like many of the recently discovered sites, this colony is small and in an area that has been severely affected by the recent loss of sea ice.
Emperor penguins need sea ice to reproduce and are located in areas that are difficult to study because of their remoteness, often inaccessibility, and can be exposed to temperatures as low as -76 degrees Fahrenheit (-60 degrees Celsius).
Dr. Fretwell and his team studied images from the European Commission’s Sentinel 2 satellite, one of the Earth-observing satellites that make up the Copernicus programme, and then compared and corroborated these images with high-resolution images from the MAXAR WorldView3 satellite.