Emperor Penguins

Emperor Penguins

News: As Antarctica warms and sea ice disappears, the breeding of emperor penguin chicks is in peril – a hostile
environment even they cannot overcome.

• Emperor penguins are amazing birds that live in the harsh environment of Antarctica. They are the largest and heaviest of all penguin species, and they have some remarkable adaptations to survive the cold and find food.
• They have a black and white plumage with yellow and orange patches on their head and neck. Their feathers are scale-like and provide insulation against the wind and water.
• They can dive up to 550 meters deep and stay underwater for up to 22 minutes, making them the world’s deepestdiving birds. They feed on fish, squid, and krill that they catch under the ice.
• They breed in winter, when the temperature can drop to - 60°C. The female lays one egg and passes it to the male, who keeps it warm on his feet under a brood pouch. The female then travels up to 80 km to the sea to feed, while the male fasts for about two months until she returns.

Why have they failed to breed recently?
• Since 2016, the Antarctic sea ice extent — the total region with at least 15% sea-ice cover — has been shrinking.
• Ice growth has been slow in Antarctica in the recent past.
• Decline in the ice sheet causes a spike in sea surface temperatures as sea ice reflects solar rays back into space and thwarts heat from getting absorbed in the oceans.
• Climate models show very large variability in Antarctic sea ice, because the models generally struggle to simulate the past changes in Antarctic sea ice.

IUCN Status:
• According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, emperor penguins are classified as near threatened, which means they are likely to become endangered in the near future.
• The main threats to their survival are climate change, which reduces their breeding habitat and food availability, and overfishing, which reduces their prey abundance. 

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