Clarification on Cape Denison Adélie Penguins

Adelie-Penguin-1 from topimages.orgThere has been some misreporting of the Adelie penguins research paper mentioned in a facebook post earlier this month, some saying that 150,000 penguins have died.

Lead author, Kerry-Jayne Wilson, has responded to some 50 media enquiries from around the globe in the past few days to correct the misunderstanding. Here is her clarification:

It is important to recognise that this study focuses on the Adelie penguin colonies at Cape Denison and the MacKellar Islets, which has been well known, and importantly, well studied over the past century. The study reported here identified the impact of the iceberg B09B on the penguins since 2010. The number of penguins breeding at these colonies has declined markedly since estimates were first made 100 years ago.

However our study concerns only the impact B09B and the associated fast ice that has built up between it and the land since the iceberg stranded in 2010. The penguins now have to commute about 65 km between colonies where they breed and the sea where they can feed. Many fewer penguins are now returning to the colonies to attempt to breed and of those that do return most fail to rear their chicks. We found hundreds of abandoned eggs and thousands of dead chicks.

We did not suggest that thousands of adult penguins have died as some media reports suggest. In fact it is unlikely many if any adult penguins have died as a result of this stranding event. We found very few, perhaps no pre-breeding birds at Cape Denison and, if as we predict, few if any young birds prospecting for a place to breed in future are visiting these colonies the local colonies could become extinct within the breeding life of an Adelie penguins (<16 years) if young birds do not replace the old established breeders as they come to the end of their lives.

This iceberg stranding event only affects Adelie penguins in the Commonwealth Bay area, the millions of Adelie penguins breeding around the rest of Antarctica are not affected.

Kerry-Jayne was also interviewed by Public Radio International (PRI), a Minneapolis-based American public radio organisation, about the Adelie penguins and the impact of climate warming in the Antarctic.  You can listen to (< 7 mins) or read the interview here, where a few of Kerry-Jayne’s photos are also presented.  PIR interview link
For more details, you can access the full paper for free by clicking here (http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayFulltext?type=1&fid=10171611&jid=ANS&volumeId=-1&issueId=-1&aid=10171606&bodyId&membershipNumber&societyETOCSession)

And a short note correcting the misreporting here: http://www.intrepidscience.com/2016/02/death-of-colony.html

Original story on our website: http://www.bluepenguin.org.nz/news/iceberg-b09b-killing-adelie-penguin-colony/

Adelie penguins nesting at Cape Denison.  Photo: Kerry-Jayne Wilson

Adelie penguins nesting at Cape Denison. Photo: Kerry-Jayne Wilson