As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Friday, 28 February 2020

Alarm over collapse of chinstrap penguin numbers

Global heating suspected to be behind sharp decline in populations across Antarctic islands

Tue 11 Feb 2020 00.01 GMTLast modified on Tue 11 Feb 2020 10.16 GMT

Colonies of chinstrap penguins have fallen by more than half across islands in Antarctica, prompting scientific concern that “something is broken” in the world’s wildest ecosystem.

After more than a month counting chicks in the South Shetland Islands, researchers suspect global heating is behind the sharp fall in numbers of the distinctive birds, which get their name from a black line that runs below the beak from cheek to cheek.

Using drones and handheld clickers, the team of four scientists from Stony Brook University in the US found only 52,786 breeding pairs on Elephant Island, 58% fewer than in the last survey in 1971.

Travelling on a Greenpeace expedition, the scientists also conducted a penguin census in the snow, fog and freezing rain of Low island, where preliminary figures indicated a similar scale of decline in what is believed to be the largest chinstrap population in Antarctica.

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