A catastrophic event in Antarctica has left a large number of Adélie penguins dead. Only two chicks out of a colony of nearly 40,000 birds have managed to survive the disaster.
The Cause Of The Disaster
The World Wildlife Fund for Nature said the Adélie penguin chicks have starved to death since the beginning of this year, due to the "unusually extensive sea ice", which made food supplies very difficult to find.
Adélie Land, or Adélie Terre, is a sector of Antarctica claimed by France and was discovered by French explorer Jules Dumont d'Urville back in the 1840's. It is home to a large number of penguins and was the filming location of the 2005 French documentary, "March of the Penguins".
"Adélie penguins are one of the hardiest and most amazing animals on our planet," said Rod Downie, Head of Polar Programmes at the World Wildlife Fund.
"This devastating event contrasts with the image that many people might have of penguins. It's more like 'Tarantino does Happy Feet', with dead penguin chicks strewn across a beach in Adélie Land."
This is not the first time this has happened. Four years ago, the breeding activity of Adélie penguins was also disrupted by "unusual environmental conditions" both on land and at sea. During the 2013-2014 breeding season, no chicks survived.
What Happens Next?
Right now, environmental groups are worried that proposals to open up the area to krill fisheries would further deteriorate the situation, because Adélie penguins depend on krill availability to survive.
The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) plan to meet in Hobart, Australia next week, in order to discuss and consider a new Marine Protected Area (MPA) proposal that will protect the local penguin population and keep the area "off limits" to the krill finishing industry. This will also provide a safe spot where the breeding activity will take place.
Population Decline Of Adélie Penguins
Due to the effects of global warming, the population of Adélie Penguins has experienced a 50 percent decline since the 1980's, according to a report by Oceanites. The population of Gentoo penguins, on the other hand, has witnessed nearly a 40 percent growth during the same period.
A recent study has shown that most of the terrestrial biodiversity of Antarctica is found in only 1 percent of the continent's ice-free area. This isolated area can become a suitable place for breeding activities for other animals.