First we had WWF asking for money under false pretences to save the Adelie penguins. Now it seems that the BBC have jumped on the bandwagon.
In their report on Cambridge scientist, Stacey Adlard’s work studying the penguins in Antarctica, they prominently show this chart:
This totally ignores the fact that Adelies have actually been thriving in recent years, a fact which Stacey herself acknowledges. It was only in July that scientists discovered that their population had increased by 53% since 1993, reported in the paper “First global census of the Adélie Penguin”. In particular, the study discovered newly colonised locations, proving that the birds are perfectly able to move around as conditions alter.
Factors affecting the Adelie population are many and complex, but the study found that population increases in East Antarctica more than offset declines on the Peninsula, suggesting that expanding sea ice in the former has been a factor.
It has also been identified that Adelies flourished during the 19th and 20thC, at a time when whales and seals, who are competitors for the krill they eat, were largely wiped out from the southern oceans. As these mammals gradually return, there will inevitable be pressures on the Adelie population, particularly in the warmer waters of the Peninsula.
The website, Birds News, offers many other interesting insights, but one is of particular relevance. According to scientist, Heather Lynch,
“climate change may actually increase their populations, particularly in areas along the Ross Sea where we have glacial retreat that leaves them more space on which to breed”.