A grounded iceberg the size of Rome has rendered an Adelie penguin colony landlocked in Antarctica, leading to the death of almost 95% of the population.
150,000 penguins from Cape Dencion have died since iceberg B09B lodged itself in their bay in 2011 forcing them to trek 60km for food.
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An estimated 150,000 penguins of Cape Denison in Commonwealth Bay have been killed since the iceberg measuring 1,120 square miles – larger than Luxemberg – forced them to trek 70 miles for food.
The penguins used to live near a large body of open water, but the arrival of the iceberg in East Antarctica and fast ice expansion has dramatically increased the distance they must travel to feed.
Newsy Science YouTube video:
The colony of 160,000 has shrunk to just 10,000 since 2011, according to research carried out by the Climate Change Research Centre at Australia’s University of New South Wales.
Penguins have been recorded at Cape Dension for more than 100 years, but the outlook for the penguins remaining in the area is dire.
Scientists predict the colony will be gone in 20 years unless the sea ice breaks up or the giant iceberg, dubbed B09B, is dislodged.
“The Cape Dencion population could be extirpated within 20 years unless B09B relocates or now perennial fast ice within the bay breaks out,” said researchers in an article in Antarctica Science.
“This has provided a natural experiment to investigate the impact of iceberg stranding events and sea ice expansion along the East Antarctic coast.”
The iceberg is thought to have been floating close to the bay for 20 years before crashing into a glacier and becoming stuck.
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