THIS is a newly discovered colony of gentoo penguins on Andersson Island off the Antarctic Peninsula, photographed by Tomás Munita.
The animals and their 75 nests were found by researchers from Stony Brook University in New York during a Greenpeace expedition to the frigid region. The team is surveying, and filming, penguins on archipelagos previously unexplored by foot, to uncover the extent of the effect of climate change on populations of penguins. The birds are considered to be “sentinel species”, in this case alerting us to the impact of a warming world.
Finding gentoos so far south isn’t normal. These penguins usually prefer warmer regions such as the sub-Antarctic and the Falkland Islands, where a large population of them lives.
Climate change, however, is opening up new territories. As temperatures rise and more ice melts, the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula – once considered too icy and harsh for gentoos to survive and thrive – has become more habitable for them.
This changing distribution of penguins is just one aspect of transformations across the entire Antarctic ecosystem, which is undergoing some of the most rapid warming in the world.
New Scientist Video
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