For the second time in just four years, thousands of Adélie penguin chicks in Antarctica have failed to survive the breeding season. This year, scientists blamed unusually thick sea ice forcing penguin parents to travel farther for food in what conservationists have called a “catastrophic breeding failure.” Scientists who have been studying a colony of 18,000 pairs of Adélie penguins in East Antarctica since 2010 discovered that only two chicks survived the most recent breeding season in early 2017. Just four years ago, no penguin chicks from the colony survived the season due to the combination of rain and a sudden cold snap.
The long trek for food:
- The World Wildlife Fund wants to stop krill fishing off East Antarctica to allow penguins easier access to their main food source.
- Adélie penguins are the most southerly breeding bird in the world. They breed from October to February and typically lay two eggs. Parents take turns incubating the eggs.
- Breeding adults may have to travel up to 75 miles (120 km) to catch enough food to bring back and regurgitate for their chicks.