A previously unknown "mega-colony" of Adelie penguins have been found on the islands, which sit on Antarctica's northern tip. While a previous geological expedition30 noted the presence of Adélie penguins on all of the Dangers Islands (with the exception of Darwin Island, which was not visited), the presence of Adélie penguins on several of these islands went largely unrecognized until a recent Landsat satellite survey of the Antarctic identified several large penguin colonies supporting what appeared to be almost 200,000 Adélie penguin nests.
Animals inhabit rocky archipelago called risky island.
You might also be interested in.. Even in the southern summer the surrounding ocean is filled with near inaccessible thick sea ice. Until now these penguins, the most commonly found in Antarctica, were believed to be experiencing a slow yet steady population decline. Up until now, there were fears the penguin species was declining rapidly due to climate change.
To find out what was going on, the team launched an expedition in 2015 with the goal of seeing for themselves if there were actually penguins there. "The population of Adélies on the east side of the Antarctic Peninsula is different from what we see on the west side, for example".
What's more, the number of penguins on the Danger Islands - which are farther north and closer to the icy Weddell Sea - appear to have remained stable over the decades. They found penguins nesting at the landing site, and beyond that a colony of an estimated 1.5 million Adélie penguins, a "hidden metropolis", writes Science Alert. Scientists had known of an Adélie penguin colony (Pygoscelis adeliae) but satellite images revealed more guano on the rocky islands than could be explained by the colony's expected numbers.
"In 2006, I had the chance to visit one of the Danger Islands and was amazed by the sheer number of Adelie penguins I saw", Polito said in a news release describing the study.
Quadcopter aerial imagery of an Adélie penguin breeding colony on Heroina Island Danger Islands Antarctica. Thomas Sayre-McCord WHOI MIT
Using a Quadcopter drone, the researchers flew a grid pattern across the islands, taking multiple photos of the birds and their nests. The scientists also used a drone to photograph the area, looking for penguins.
"We want to understand why".
The first ever count of the population of penguins on the Danger Islands offered a valuable benchmark for future change, said Stephanie Jenouvrier, a seabird ecologist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and also a co-author of the study.
Now, researchers think parts of the islands should be considered for protected areas. "Sustenance accessibility? That is something we don't have the foggiest idea", she says.
The researchers said that the findings highlight the importance of protecting the area.
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