The new colony is not the first to be discovered from space. In total, there are now 66 known colonies of emperor penguins on the coasts of Antarctica, half of which have been discovered using satellite imagery, according to the British Antarctic Survey (BAS).
It is estimated that around 500 emperor penguins are part of the newly discovered colony.
There were large patches of guano, bird droppings, which revealed the whereabouts of the penguins. Namely, emperor penguins live in remote, hard-to-reach areas that are difficult to study, where the temperature can reach minus 60 degrees. But the birds’ brown droppings stand out against the white snow and ice, and are therefore easy to spot on satellite imagery.
Peter Fretwellwho studies wildlife from space at BAS, says the discovery is exciting — but it has a dark side, too.
“Although this is good news, this colony, like many of the newly discovered sites, is small and in an area that has been severely affected by the recent loss of sea ice,” he said in a press release.
Emperor penguins depend on sea ice for nesting, an environment that is highly affected by climate change. The latest projections indicate that 80 percent of emperor penguin colonies will become extinct by the end of the century, assuming current warming trends continue, according to the BAS.
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