The fauna of Antarctica is represented by eight species of penguins. The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) published in 2012 concluded that the inhospitable continent was inhabited by nearly 600,000 emperor penguins in a total of about 46 colonies. The giant colony of the emperor penguin living in Hally Bay located in Weddell Sea is a thing of the past.

Antarctic Collapses

According to the scientists, the massive death of chicks in Hally Bay has begun due to the ice floe from 2016. This catastrophic “scenario” has been repeated for three years, including 2017 and 2018. Thousands chicks drowned because they haven’t been sufficiently fledge and thus able to survive in the open sea.

Antarctic collapses are attributed to changes in climatic conditions that change polar sea ice conditions. These changes were captured in high resolution satellite imagery. The images show that the bay, formerly considered a stable haven of emperor penguins, ceases to provide safe conditions after the colony’s reproduction and maintenance.

Researchers from British Antarctic Survey (BAS) state:

The failure to raise chicks for three consecutive years is associated with changes in local sea-ice conditions. Emperor penguins need stable sea-ice on which to breed, and this icy platform must last from April when the birds arrive, until December when their chicks fledge.”

What Is the Future of the Largest Penguin Species?

The emperor penguin is the endemic of Antarctica, the highest (up to 122 cm) and the heaviest (weighing up to 90 pounds) of all penguins. They usually live for about 20 years, but observations suggest that some may live up to 50 years.

Although the neighboring Dawson Labton colony has spread, scientists estimate that emperor penguins will continue to decrease. By the end of the century, about 50-70 percent will disappear. Scientists will continue to investigate how changes in climate conditions can cause changes in Antarctic ice sheets, and how the emperor penguin population will be able to respond to these changes.