The consequences of climate change are everywhere and future projections are dark for most species. The Emperor penguinsymbol of Antarctica, is no exception.
What happens is that this species depends on ice to complete its reproductive cycle. With predictions that the amount of frozen water in the regions inhabited by the Emperor penguin will be less in the coming decades, its future is uncertain.
The pigeons of Emperor penguin they hatch during the winter and require solid sea ice from April through December. If the sea were to freeze later in the year, due to high temperatures, or if it melted earlier for the same reason, the hatchlings would have no chance of survival.
“If the water reaches the newborn penguins, which are not ready to swim and do not have waterproof plumage, they die of cold and drown”, indicated Marcella Libertelli, a biologist at the Antarctic Institute of Argentina. This happened at the Halley Bay colony, the second largest colony of these animalswhen all their young died in 3 years.
“Projections suggest that colonies between latitudes 60 and 70 degrees will disappear in the next few decades, that is, in the next 30 or 40 years”Libertelli warned. Their extinction would have negative consequences for the area because the food chain would be interrupted.
The emperor penguin
The Emperor penguin It is the largest in size and weight of all species: they can exceed 120 centimeters in height and weigh between 20 and 45 kilos. Likewise, its life expectancy is around 19.9 years, although the occasional specimen can live up to 50.
However, they are at risk not only from climate change, but also from tourism activities. According to Libertelli, cruise ships arriving in the southern continent affect krill populations, one of the emperor penguin’s main food sources.