Penguin Populations In Peril

The Penguin Post is dismayed to report that certain penguin populations have plunged by as much as 50 percent during the past three decades in the West Antarctic Peninsula and Scotia Sea, scientists report. The problem appears to be a shortage of krill, the seabirds’ primary fare, caused by rising regional air temperatures and rebounding populations of hungry whales. Fisheries biologist Wayne Z. Trivelpiece of the National Marine Fisheries Service in La Jolla, California, has been monitoring colonies of chinstrap and Adélie penguins since the mid-1970s. Because Trivelpiece regularly bands and monitors individual penguins, he’s been able to uncover a key factor in the collapse: Far fewer young penguins are surviving their first winter on their own, because they’re having a hard time finding krill. “It’s gone from about half of the chicks surviving in the 1970s and mid-1980s to only about one tenth now,” Trivelpiece said.”And we see from direct measurements of krill that there’s about 80 percent less out here than there was just 20 years ago. So the probability of young penguins finding it often enough to survive during those first months of independence is much reduced.”

Chinstrap Penguins are one of the species in decline.


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