If you ever find yourself hanging out on Antarctica's Danger Islands, we hope you like penguins.
SCIENTISTS have discovered new "mega colonies" of penguins in Antarctica that contain millions of the flightless birds. Now, a new study conducted by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) has revealed a previously unknown "supercolony" of more than 1.5 million Adélies living in the Danger Islands, a remote archipelago on the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula.
This may have been due to their remoteness and the hard waters that surround them: even in the summer, anyone trying to reach the islands can expect to deal with thick sea ice.
"Not only do the Danger Islands hold the largest population of Adélie penguins on the Antarctic Peninsula, they also appear to have not suffered the population declines found along the western side of Antarctic Peninsula that are associated with recent climate change", said Michael Polito, from Louisiana State University.
In 2014, Lynch and her colleagues spotted penguin poo on Nasa satellite imagery of the islands, so launched an expedition in December 2015. Once those massive images are available, he says, his team can use neural network software to analyze them, pixel by pixel, searching for penguin nests autonomously.
"Despite concerted worldwide effort to track and interpret shifts in the abundance and distribution of Adélie penguins, large populations continue to be identified", says the article.
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The animals are crammed on to a rocky archipelago called the Danger Islands.
Landsat satellite offered images showing lots of penguins' guano (excrements of the penguins) suggesting that the Danger Islands are inhabited by hundreds of thousands of penguins.
The first bird census of the Danger Islands unearthed over 750,000 Adelie breeding pairs, more than the rest of the area combined, the team reported in the journal Scientific Reports.
And Dr Lynch added: "The other point worth making is that these islands are right in the mix for a couple of marine protected areas that are being proposed. But it also reinforces the urgency to protect Antarctic waters from the dual threats of overfishing and climate change".
Researchers said they have found "a major hotspot of abundance" of penguins in the region, where colonies, particularly in western Antarctica, had thought to have been in decline for many years.