We have all been faced with the scary reality of what global warming will bring for our future. Faster melting icebergs in the north will cause insanely unseasonal climate changes all around the globe, and will lead to many various natural disasters be it floods, hurricanes, or even tornadoes. However this “future problem” as many are putting it, is becoming a fast approaching reality for the colony of Adelie penguins who call Cape Denison, of eastern Antartica, their home.
In 2010 an iceberg which broke away from a large formation found its way to the feeding grounds of the penguins and effectively blocked passage for them to enter. This caused a massive devastation to the population and interrupted not only their feeding, but also their breeding cycle, and their way of life.
The penguins need rocks for their nesting place, which the coast of Cape Denison was offering them, but unfortunately this iceberg drastically changed their plans. When it crashed into the area, the penguins were forced to detour hundreds of miles just to reach their breeding and feeding grounds. After the long hike to their breeding grounds, another problem arose. The chicks were too young and weak to travel with the adults to their other feeding grounds, and being a species of habit, the adults were going with or without the chicks.
When researchers located the breeding grounds in Cape Denison they were shocked for two reasons. First, they didn’t see any adults in the area, all had fled to be with their colony further up the coast. Additionally, they had in turn left behind hundred of eggs, and thousands of frozen chicks. All because of one iceberg.
The estimated population of the Adelie penguins colony on Cape Denison in 2010 before the iceberg landed on the coast, was 160,000. 6 years later the population has dropped to a mere 10,000 penguins and continues to drop fast. While the Adelie penguin holds a strong overall population of 3.9 million, and the 150,000 who have died doesn’t really dent this number much, with the continuation of global warming, these penguins, and many other Arctic animals, face certain extinction.