Adelie penguins who were thought to be on a decline by the scientists have been discovered on the Danger islands of a chain of nine rocky islands off the Antarctic Peninsula’s tip, near South America. Their numbers are said to be 1.5 million strong.
Located off the Antarctic Peninsula’s northern tip, these islands are both- surrounded by thick sea ice and incredibly remote. This allowed the Penguins to remain hidden from the world.
Ms Lynch teamed up with Mathew Schwaller from NASA four years ago and examined satellite images that hinted at an interestingly large number of penguins in the area.
Determined she set out on an expedition with a team of researchers to verify the find. They arrived in December 2015 and counted the birds with the help of a drone that took a picture once every second.
The photos were then stitched together to give a holistic picture.
The team hopes to analyse the guano content in the collected layers of mud to determine how long the penguins have been nesting in the Danger Islands.
Michael Polito, one of those on the expedition from Louisiana State University, said the “islands appear to have not suffered the population declines found along the western side of Antarctic Peninsula that are associated with recent climate change”.
Just 100 miles away, on the west of the peninsula, Adelie numbers have dropped by around 70% in recent decades due to melting sea ice, a condition blamed on global warming.
Ms Lynch added, “One of the ways in which this is good news is that other studies have shown this area (the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula) is likely to remain more stable under climate change than the western Antarctic Peninsula.So we end up with a large population of Adelie penguins in a region likely to remain suitable to them for some time.”