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The fascinating documentary "March of the Penguins" touched on some of the issues faced by Emperor Penguins, due to global warming. Now scientists are predicting even more dire consequences if some preventive measures are not taken soon.
A recent report warns that the four species of penguins that breed on the Antarctic Continent - Emperor, Chinstrap, Adelie, and Gentoo - are in danger of extinction, because the melting ice in the Antarctic is taking away precious ground on which they raise their young and from which they obtain their food supply.
Colonies of the Emperor Penguins have been reduced by almost half over the past fifty years. Warmer winter temperatures and stronger winds have forced the penguins to raise their little one on thinner ice. As the ice breaks, chicks and eggs, not ready to survive on their own are being blown away.
The Adelie species is also suffering from the global warming phenomenon and has seen it's colonies reduced by almost sixty percent in the last 25 years. Their issue is slightly different. This species requires land that is free of snow and ice to bring up its young ones. Only two percent of the Antarctica is ice-free. With the temperatures getting warmer, the moisture in the air is resulting in more frequent and heavier snowfalls. This is making it hard for the Adelie penguins to survive.
The Chinstrap and Gentoo species are both suffering from lack of Krill (tiny shrimp-like fish), which thrives in sea ice (ice that forms from sea water). A combination of the ice melting and over-fishing in the Antarctic has led to a shortage of food for both these species.
The environmental organization is hoping that their warnings will be heard and stronger measures taken to stop the alarming consequences of global warming, which will hopefully help save these gorgeous animals from extinction.
Sources: worldwildlife.org, wikipedia.com