Chinstrap penguins in peril: Colonies in Western Antarctic decline as global warming worsens

Scientists studying the effects of climate change on the remote region of Antarctica have discovered that since their last survey in the 1970s, the number of chinstrap penguins in colonies of Western Antarctica has fallen by 77 per cent. 

Let's look at what this means for the derpy, flightless avian and what it means for the world overall.

Chinstrap Penguins; lovable residents of Western Antarctica

The chinstrap penguin, named after the narrow black band under its head, inhabits the islands and shores of the Southern Pacific and Antarctic Oceans and feeds on krill. 

(Photograph:Reuters)

What seems and what is - Number of chinstrap penguins incredibly low

The number of chinstraps at one important habitat in the region, Elephant Island, has plummeted by around 60 per cent since the last survey in 1971, to fewer than 53,000 breeding pairs today.

(Photograph:Reuters)

Assessing the damage; expeditions into Antartica

Scientists travelling on two Greenpeace ships conducted their expedition to Western Antarctica, using manual and drone surveying techniques to assess the scale of the damage.

(Photograph:Reuters)

Counting Colonies - measuring the population of chinstrap penguins

Steve Forrest, a conservation biologist says that the declines have been dramatic. "Something is happening to the fundamental building blocks of the food chain here. We've got less food abundance that's driving these populations down lower and lower over time and the question is, is that going to continue?"

 

(Photograph:Reuters)

Temperatures rise, we fall

 As per reports from the World Meteorological Organisation, research bases in Antarctica recently recorded the hottest temperature ever for the continent - 18.3 degrees Celsius.

Greenpeace is calling on the United Nations to protect 30 per cent of the world's oceans by 2030, a target agreed upon by scientists and governments as the minimum needed to halt the damage being done by harmful human activity.

(Photograph:Reuters)