Antarctic penguins suffer huge breeding failure

  1. Antarctica’s second-largest colony of emperor penguins- the Halley Bay- has suffered a “catastrophic” breeding failure. This is because nearly all chicks born over three years died as their icy Antarctic habitat shrunk.
  2. Halley bay in Weddell Sea is the second largest emperor penguin colony in Antarctica, after Coulman Island in the Ross Sea. Until recently, it supported 9% of the bird’s population in the world.
  3. The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) used satellite imagery to study the behaviour of the Halley Bay colony and had found that in 2016, abnormally warm and stormy weather broke up the sea-ice on which the penguins normally raise their young. This had killed all the chicks. In 2017 and 2018, too, the sea ice broke up early, leading to the likely death of all chicks.
  4. The breeding failure of the penguin is a matter of serious concern. According to scientists, penguin population will decline due to future warming of the Antarctic and reduced sea ice as a consequence of climate change.
  5. The Emperor Penguin is the largest of all living penguin species. It is the only one that breeds during the Antarctic winter. It is also the only known bird to never breed on dry land, preferring to raise chicks on frozen sea instead. It is listed as Near Threatened in the IUCN Red List.