Unbelievable drone pics reveal MILLIONS of penguins in Antarctic 'mega-colonies'

Even in the austral summer the surrounding ocean is filled with thick sea ice making it extremely difficult to access. The Danger Islands are located in the northern peninsula of Antarctica and are home to 751,527 pairs of Adélie penguins

When he arrived, he spotted penguin nests, and since then he has known that he discovered something big on the islands.

It is also the only island to date with a population estimate (285,000-305,000) derived from a ground survey of the island.

With the discovery of all these new penguins, there comes an opportunity to learn more about their colony, and the way they differ from others of the same species who live elsewhere on the Antarctic peninsula. "In the Antarctic, distances are so vast, something major could be just around the corner and you wouldn't know".

So a team of researchers headed out on another expedition to the islands in 2015. Scientists in Antarctica have recently found a massive supercolony of penguins off of the coast of Antarctica, using drones. A medium-sized penguin, they grow to about 70 centimetres tall, and weigh three to six kilogrammes.

Ice melting reduces krill, the penguins' main food, and allows for more detrimental human activity, especially fisheries. On the eastern side, where sea ice has been more stable, the species has clearly thrived. This suggests a large number of penguins in the area, so they arranged an expedition to the island with the objective of counting the birds.

It could also help them understand what is causing other populations to decline when these penguins are thriving.

Now that scientists know where the Adélie Penguins are, they can also work to protect them.

After heading to the remote island in December 2015 to investigate, the professors, along with a seabird ecologist from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in MA and other experts, said they found hundreds of thousands of birds nesting in the rocky soil.

To discover more, Lynch teamed with Stephanie Jenouvrier, a seabird ecologist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), Mike Polito at LSU and Tom Hart at Oxford University to solve the mystery. The nearby ocean has thick sea ice even in austral summer, which makes the place hard to access. This meant there were more Adélie penguins in the Danger Islands than in the rest of the Antartica Peninsula combined, as the researchers report in the study, which was published in Scientific Reports.

"We want to understand why".

Evidence of the previously-unknown penguin colony first emerged in data from the Landsat Earth-monitoring satellites run by NASA and the US Geological Survey. "Given that MPA proposals are based in the best available science, this publication helps to highlight the importance of this area for protection", she says.

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