Irish Examiner View: Wondrous nature

11 new colonies of emperor penguins discovered in Antarctica
Irish Examiner View: Wondrous nature

A discovery of 11 new colonies of emperor penguins in Antarctica is testament to the wonder of nature, even in the harshest conditions.

A discovery of 11 new colonies of emperor penguins in Antarctica is testament to the wonder of nature, even in the harshest conditions. It is also testament to the importance of modern technology in locating and protecting the species, whose breeding ground is vulnerable to climate change.

Findings published in the journal Remote Sensing In Ecology and Conservation show how images from the European Commission's Copernicus Sentinel-2 satellite mission were used to locate the birds, whose remote, freezing habitat makes them difficult to study.

Last year satellite imagery revealed that the second-largest emperor penguin colony on Earth had suffered a catastrophic breeding failure over the previous three years.

British researchers were studying the behaviour of the Halley Bay colony in the Weddell Sea south of Cape Hope, which normally sees up to 25,000 penguin pairs mate each year. 

They found that almost all the chicks died since 2016 when abnormally warm and stormy weather broke up the sea ice on which the penguins normally raise their young.

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