An expert from the Argentine Antarctic Agency warns that emperor penguins could become completely extinct in the coming decades. This is due to climate change.
The emperor penguin is the largest living member of the penguin family. His average height is about 122 centimeters, and his weight ranges between 22 and 45 kilograms.
Biologist Marcela Libertelli, who studies birds at the Argentine Antarctic Institute, has done extensive research on the emperor penguin habitat in the tundra of Antarctica and concluded that the species could become extinct within a few decades if climate change continues at the same pace.
First of all, climate change affects the reproductive cycle of birds: in Halley Bay in the Weddell Sea, all the chicks born to the second largest colony of emperor penguins have died over the past three years, according to Libertelli.
The death of chicks is due to the fact that they, unlike adults, do not yet have plumage. Plumage is essential for survival in harsh environments.
Emperor penguins have the longest reproductive cycles of any penguin. The parents must sit the chicks on the sea ice until they are grown and ready to swim. However, climate change is causing the ice to freeze too late and melt too early, so the penguins don’t have enough time to complete the cycle.
“If the water reaches the newborn penguins, which are not ready to swim and do not have waterproof plumage, they die of cold and drown,” says Libertelli.
According to the scientist, at this rate, emperor penguins will die out in the next 30-40 years.
“The extinction of any species is a tragedy for the planet. Whether small or large, plant or animal, it doesn’t matter. This is a loss to biodiversity,” concludes Libertelli.