Scientists were absolutely floored to discover a massive colony of 1.5 million penguins they did not know was there.
It is not every day you find a colony of 1.5 million penguins thanks to a satellite analysis that show mass amounts of poop, but that is what scientists studying the Adelie penguins discovered in Antarctica recently. The findings, which were described in the journal Scientific Reports, indicate that there is a “super colony” of Adelie penguins on Danger Island in east Antarctica that no one knew was there.
That is a big deal because it would be the largest population of the species on the entire Antarctica peninsula. And it comes at a time when scientists were growing concerned about a declining population due to climate change. This discovery shows there were a lot more penguins that scientists realized.
But that does not mean that Adelie penguins are doing just fine. Scientists have noted a significant drop of 65 percent among the population on the west side of the peninsula. It is a problem that will almost certainly hit the population on the east as well, if it has not already.
“In 2014, Lynch and colleague Mathew Schwaller from NASA discovered telltale guano stains in existing NASA satellite imagery of the islands, hinting at a mysteriously large number of penguins,” a statement from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution reads. “To find out for sure, Lynch teamed with Stephanie Jenouvrier, a seabird ecologist at WHOI, Mike Polito at LSU and Tom Hart at Oxford University to arrange an expedition to the islands with the goal of counting the birds firsthand.”