Home North pole ice Antarctic emperor penguin officially listed as endangered • Earth.com

Antarctic emperor penguin officially listed as endangered • Earth.com


On Tuesday, October 26, 2022, the US Fish and Wildlife Service listed the Antarctic emperor penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri) as an endangered species. Although this species is very resilient and can withstand high winds and freezing temperatures in order to breed and protect its eggs and offspring, melting sea ice is currently disrupting the habitat it needs to breed, feed and protect themselves from predators, possibly bringing them to the brink of extinction by the end of the century.

“This list reflects the growing extinction crisis,” said Martha Williams, director of the US Fish and Wildlife Service. “Climate change is having a profound impact on species around the world.”

Although the Center for Biological Diversity previously petitioned Fish and Wildlife to add the emperor penguin to its Endangered Species Act in 2011, no action has been taken for over a decade, increasing the risks to which this species is exposed. As previous studies have shown, while the sea ice around Antarctica has been shown to be more durable than that at the North Pole, nearly all colonies of emperor penguins on the southern continent could be pushed to extinction by by the end of the 21stst century, unless urgent action to drastically reduce global greenhouse gas emissions is taken.

“This body of science really helped make that decision very clear,” said Shaye Wolf, director of climate science at the Center for Biological Diversity. “That the penguin is threatened by climate change and needs all the protection it can get.”

Although emperor penguin populations appear to be stable at the moment – with 625,000 to 650,000 birds moving around Antarctica – there are already worrying signs of what the future may hold for this iconic bird. For example, in recent years breaking up of pack ice before chicks are ready to swim at Cape Crozier or Halley Bay has led to breeding failures.

Scientists and conservationists hope listing the endangered species will lead to stricter limits on fishing for krill – the penguin’s main food source – around Antarctica, as well as to require US officials to consider the climate implications of various federal projects before approving them. .

“If we manage to act, and especially act now, we can still avoid extinction,” concluded Stéphanie Jenouvrier, a scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution who has studied the current situation of emperor penguins in Antarctica.

The official document listing endangered penguins can be accessed here.

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By Andrei Ionescu, Terre.com Personal editor