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New colony of gentoo penguins discovered on Antarctic Peninsula

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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.

New penguin colonies not previously known to science have been found in the Antarctic by researchers from Stony Brook University. These include a new gentoo penguin colony never before recorded at Andersson Island, on the east side of the Antarctic Peninsula. This is one of the southmost records for Gentoo penguins breeding on the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula, where until recently it was far too icy for the more temperate Gentoo penguin to successfully raise chicks. Before this discovery, only one solitary Gentoo nest had been found this far south, but researchers have now discovered a colony of 75 gentoo nests.

Tomás Munita / Greenpeace

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
See footage of these penguins and much more online youtube.com/newscientist

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