150,000 penguins died when a massive iceberg grounded close to their colony in Antarctica and forcing the penguins to walk around the iceberg, a long trek of 60 km to find food.
The B09B iceberg is gigantic and measures 38.6 square miles and it is grounded in Commonwealth Bay in East Antarctica in December 2010. The population of Adele penguin in Cape Denison was calculated to be 160,000 in February 2011 but by December 2013, it came down to 10,000
The iceberg’s grounding forced the penguins to walk an extra 37 miles to find food. It badly impacted their breeding habits, leading to a steep fall in population according to scientists from University of New South Wales’ (UNSW) Climate Change Research Centre and New Zealand’s West Coast Penguin Trust.
According to the census in December 2013, there were hundreds of abandoned eggs and the ground was beset with carcasses of previous season’s chicks, freeze dried in the extreme cold.
UNSW’s Chris Turney, who led the 2013 expedition, told Sydney Morning Herald that the ones found the ones who were left behind at Cape Denison was extraordinarily meek, sluggish, and almost unaware of your existence. The ones surviving were so weak and struggling and can hardly be expected to survive let alone breed and hatch the next generation.
In sharp contrast, the penguins residing in the eastern tassel of the Bay, just eight kilometers from the ice edge were flourishing. The study would have broad ramifications for the East Antarctic if the current trend of increasing sea ice continued. The Sea Ice around the Antarctic is growing, in sharp contrast to the Arctic where the global warming is causing the glaciers to shrink and ice to melt.
The rise in Sea Ice around Antarctica is mainly caused due to changes in the wind and local conditions.