Scientists have discovered a new colony of emperor penguins in Antarctica using technology that maps satellites from the sky.
The colony is home to around 500 birds, the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) said in a press release. Its discovery means that there are now 66 known colonies of emperor penguins around the Antarctic coast. The BAS says half of all those colonies were detected using satellite imagery.
A team that formed BAS studied images from the European Commission’s Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission and then compared them with high-resolution images from the Maxar WorldView-3 satellite.
Scientists have searched satellite images for evidence of penguin colonies for 15 years. It’s not an easy job because emperor penguins breed in icy regions with temperatures as low as -60 C.
Scientist Peter Fretwell of the British Antarctic Survey, who led the study, said: “This is an exciting discovery. “New satellite images of Antarctica’s coastline have allowed us to find many new colonies.
“And while this is good news, like many of the recently discovered sites, this colony is small and located in an area that has been hit hard by recent sea ice loss.”
Emperor penguins are known to be prone to loss of sea ice, where they breed. According to the current warming trends, 80 percent of the colonies will be “nearly extinct by the end of this century,” the researchers say.
Reporting for this story was paid for through the Meta-funded Afghan Journalists Project in Residence.