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Thousands of Adelie penguin chicks wiped out in Antarctica

13 Octobre 2017

Scientists studying a colony of more than 18,000 pairs of Adelie penguins in the French Antarctic territory, Adelie Land, discovered only two chicks had survived at the start of 2017.

The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, made up of 25 member states and the European Union, meets on Monday to consider the proposal.

A marine protected area, which would prevent krill fishing, would help to secure a future for the wildlife of East Antarctica, including Adelie and emperor penguins, WWF said.

Thousands of baby penguins in Antarctica have died from starvation after their parents failed to find food across unusually extensive sea ice.

WWF, the wildlife charity, will ask for greater protection of the waters off East Antarctica next week, at an global meeting in Hobart, Tasmania, where proposals for a new Marine Protected Area (MPA) will be considered.

But the same colony which failed to breed chicks this year, failed to produce a single chick four years ago from 20,196 adult pairs, with heavy sea ice combining with unusually warm weather and rain followed by a drop in temperature leaving many chicks saturated and freezing to death.

Rod Downie, head of polar programmes at WWF said: 'Adelie penguins are one of the hardiest and most unbelievable animals on our planet.

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They have been declining in the Antarctic region as climate change has reduced their ice habitat and warmings seas have affected their food.

'So CCAMLR needs to act now by adopting a new Marine Protected Area for the waters off East Antarctica, to protect the home of the penguins'.

"This devastating event contrasts with the Disney image that many people might have of penguins".

Adelie penguins live on a diet of mostly krill, a small shrimp-like crustacean.

He said unusually extensive sea ice late in the summer caused problems.

"The Mertz glacier impact on the region sets the scene in 2010 and when unusual meteorological events, driven by large climatic variations, hit in some years this leads to massive failures", Ropert-Coudert told the Guardian.

Thousands of Adelie penguin chicks wiped out in Antarctica