The emperor penguin is at serious risk of extinction in the next 30-40 years due to climate change, as this species depends on the frozen sea to complete its reproductive cycle, according to declared to Reuters an expert in this field.
Emperor penguin chicks, one of the best-known Antarctic species, hatch during the austral winter, so solid sea ice is needed from April through December. Otherwise, if the sea freezes later or melts prematurely, the chicks simply would not survive.
“If the water reaches the newborn penguins, who are not prepared to swim and do not have waterproof plumage, they die of cold and drown,” explained Marcella Libertelli, a biologist from the Antarctic Institute of Argentina, adding that it has already been registered. a case in which all the chicks in the colony at Halley Bay in the Weddell Sea, the second largest colony, died within 3 years.
“The projections [climáticas] suggest that colonies between latitudes 60 and 70 degrees [sur] will disappear in the coming decades, that is to say, in the next 30 or 40 years”, declared the scientist, pointing out that the disappearance of this species could have negative consequences for the region, due to the interruption of food chains, in which there are fewer participants.
In addition, according to Libertelli, one of the reasons for the impact on the Antarctic climate is the increase in the number of tourist boats, as well as fishing, which affect krill, an important link in the food chain of emperor penguins and other species. region of.