A massive iceberg that became grounded near a colony of penguins in Antarctica has caused more than 150,000 of the birds to die after leaving them landlocked.
In December 2010, an iceberg measuring more than 1,100 square miles — the size of the city of Rome – crossed into the bay near Cape Denison where a massive colony of Adelie penguins lived, according to The Guardian.
With the arrival of the iceberg, breeding Adelie penguins near the cape must now travel almost 40 miles in search of food. The exhausting trek has caused the colony to diminish from 160,000 penguins to just 10,000, an alarming new study by Atlantic Science found.
Chris Turney, a climate change professor with the Australasian Antarctic Expedition, has been tracking the penguin decline.
“It’s eerily silent now,” Turney told the Sydney Morning Herald. “The ones that we saw at Cape Denison were incredibly docile, lethargic, almost unaware of your existence. The ones that are surviving are clearly struggling. They can barely survive themselves, let alone hatch the next generation. We saw lots of dead birds on the ground … it’s just heartbreaking to see.”
With 93 percent of their population already dead, researchers estimate that in 20 years, the rest of the colony will be completely wiped out.
“They don’t migrate,” Turney told the publication. “They’re stuck there. They’re dying.”
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