Penguins are the most common bird on an icy continent and flock to populations as large as some cities. Of the 17 species recorded over the years in the region, only the emperor and Adelie survived the glacial desert year round. Chinstrap, gentoo and macaroni all breed on the northern tip of the Antarctic peninsula, before reaching the cooler waters of the Southern Ocean.
But things are changing fast.
Temperatures on the continent have risen by almost 3 degrees Celsius over the past 50 years and about 87 percent of the glaciers along its west coast have “retreated” during that time.
Award-winning filmmaker and author Jon Bowermaster revealed some of the first effects of that change in Amazon Prime̵7;s documentary ‘Terra Antarctica’.
“We discovered a trio of tents on Petermann Island and pulled ashore to investigate,” he said.
“It turns out this is home to the penguin researchers here every summer.”
The Oceanides environmental group has been tracking wildlife for two decades in the area.
“The number of gentoo penguins is increasing, and Adelie penguins are decreasing,” said researcher Melissa Rider.
“Even from last year to this year, we lost 20% of our Adelie penguins in a year.
“The Adelies are cold-loving birds, they like a lot of sea ice and we won’t have such conditions in this part of the Antarctic Peninsula.
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“Since leaving King George, she’s been lobbying to spend a day looking for it.”
After walking across the ice for a few hours, the couple discovered a penguin just five meters away.
“Here it is,” Ms. Stewart said in 2016. It is beautiful.
“You can still see a little white mark on its head.
“I couldn’t believe it was right there. I couldn’t be happier ”.
In the ocean, the penguin’s black back disguises birds from both predators and prey swimming above.
Experts suspect color changes will affect the bird’s survival, although there are no studies to support this theory.
Although penguins have wings and feathers, they cannot fly.
Instead, they have evolved into the most efficient swimmers and divers of all birds.
Some species spend 75% of their time in the ocean – the most compared to birds.