Scientists have found a massive colony of penguins in Antarctica from space thanks to their poop, an extraordinary discovery.
Scientists have thought populations of Adelie penguins were declining, a worrying development that they were trying to understand. And then, scientists suddenly discovered that there were 1.5 million of them living in an area they did not even know about, and it is all thanks to the fact that their poop was visible from space.
The paper, published in the journal Scientific Reports, describes a new “super colony” of 1.5 million Adelie penguins on the Danger Island on the east side of Antarctica. It would be the largest population of Adelie penguins on the Antarctica peninsula, and suggests that this species is doing a lot better than scientists thought despite declines on the western side of the Antarctic peninsula due to climate change.
“Not only do the Danger Islands hold the largest population of Adélie penguins on the Antarctic Peninsula, they also appear to have not suffered the population declines found along the western side of Antarctic Peninsula that are associated with recent climate change,” says ichael Polito, coauthor from Louisiana State University and a guest investigator at WHOI.
It does not mean there is no cause for concern for the Adelie penguins, as western penguins have seen their populations dive by 65 percent in the last quarter century. There is no reason why that could not happen to those on the east side as well, and scientists will be watching those penguins very closely in the coming years.