Scientists stumbled upon a huge colony of penguins they did not even know existed thanks to guano droppings.
Scientists were getting worried about the Adelie penguins that lived in Antarctica after witnessing a decling of 65 percent in their population, which they attributed to climate change. And then, a research team suddenly stumbled upon a colony of 1.5 million penguins recently thanks to the fact that their poop could be seen from space.
Researchers at NASA were analyzing satellite data when they discovered “telltale guano stains” in the Danger Islands area, which indicated that there may be a massive penguin colony there. Sure enough, when the research team arrived at that location in December 2015, they found a huge number of birds nesting in the area and began to number them by hand.
The new study goes into detail on this extraordinary new finding, which is excellent news for the Adelie penguin species in general. However, climate change remains a grave threat to them and scientists will watch this colony closely to see if their numbers see similar declines.
“For the past 40 years, the total number of Adélie Penguins, one of the most common on the Antarctic Peninsula, has been steadily declining–or so biologists have thought,” reads the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution statement. “A new study led by researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), however, is providing new insights on of this species of penguin. In a paper released on March 2nd in the journal Scientific Reports, the scientists announced the discovery of a previously unknown “supercolony” of more than 1,500,000 Adélie Penguins in the Danger Islands, a chain of remote, rocky islands off of the Antarctic Peninsula’s northern tip.”