Emperor Penguins would be extinct if climate goals are not met

Context

Warming climate may render Emperor Penguins, one of the most striking and charismatic animals on Earth, extinct by the end of the century, according to a new study by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI).

About

  • The study was a part of an international collaboration between scientists.
  • Penguins are this indicator species, this canary in the coal mine, they are warning us of the future effect of climate.
  • The big message is we need to listen to the penguins, and implement policies to meet the Paris agreement’s objective.
  • Disappearing sea ice impacts Emperor Penguins directly, as the animals use it as a home base for their nine-month breeding season and for feeding and moulting.
  • Emperor Penguins tend to build their colonies on ice with extremely specific conditions — it must be locked in to the shoreline of the Antarctic continent, but close enough to open seawater to give the bird’s access to food for themselves and their young.
  • As climate warms, however, that sea ice will gradually disappear, robbing the birds of their habitat, food sources and ability to raise their chicks.

Emperor Penguins

  • The status of the emperor penguin, one of Antarctica’s most iconic species, in the Red List of International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is Near Threatened.
  • The emperor penguin is the tallest and heaviest of all living penguin species and is endemic to Antarctica. Emperor Penguins are the largest penguins in the world.
  • Feathers of the head and back are black and sharply delineated from the white belly, pale-yellow breast and bright-yellow ear patches.
  • While hunting, the species can remain submerged around 20 minutes. They can dive deeper than any other bird.
  • This is the only penguin species that breeds during the Antarctic winter.
  • Emperor Penguins don’t build any sort of nests at all. Their feet and brood patches are the only “nest” their chicks get.

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