King penguins are in growing danger of disappearing

King penguins are in danger of losing their breeding and feeding grounds (/123RF)

Natalia Welzenbach-Marcu | February 27th, 2018

Global warming, shifting weather patterns, and melting ice sheets are all playing huge parts in the possible disappearance of the distinctively colorful King penguins.

In a report published by the Nature Climate Change journal, a group of researchers compiled evidence that suggests a bleak future for King penguins within the century. Co-author, Celine Le Bohec, voiced one of the scariest concerns: “70% of breeding penguins []…will be forced to relocate their breeding grounds, or face extinction before the end of the century.”

This is because King penguins breed in very specific locations–isolated islands in the Southern Ocean that are unobstructed by ice cover. Penguins living around the Antarctic are already at an increased risk of dying out, because the Antarctic polar front, a warm body of water that hosts a variety of rich marine life and serves as the feeding ground for most penguins, is being pushed further away from land, forcing penguins to swim longer distances for food and subsequently leaving their chicks behind, unattended and vulnerable.

As the ice shelf melts and the trek from breeding ground to feeding waters becomes more dangerous, more and more penguins are in danger of being wiped out by natural predators. The researchers who worked to compile their findings warn that this is perhaps the most stark reminder that global warming has very real consequences.

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