African Penguins Are Dying Out Thanks To Climate Change

Oh wont someone please think of the penguins? Theyre really having a tough time now, and they genuinely dont deserve it. Volcanic eruptions and iceberg collapses are already killing off quite a few of them, and now as reported in the journal Current Biology climate change and fishing are officially penguin antagonists.

African penguins ( Spheniscus demersus ) can discover along the southern tip of the eponymous continent. No more than 70 centimeters( 28 inches) tall, these lightweight birds waddle and swim around the coasts of South Africa, heading toward familiar hunting places to catch fish to eat.

However, thanks to the proliferation of fishing and anthropogenic changes to the temperature, salinity, and acidity of the seawater around South Africa, there arent as many fish as there used to be in these hunting spots.

According to researchers from the University of Exeter, we have inadvertently made ecological traps for them, and the futures not looking good.

Based on current population rates, the team of researchers predict that breeding number of African penguins are 50 percent lower nowadays, compared to situations where these adorable birds are able to adapt and find new, prey-filled hunting grounds.

Juvenile African penguins look for areas of low sea temperatures and high chlorophyll-a, which indicates the presence of plankton and therefore the fish which feed on it, examine lead writer Dr Richard Sherley, a preservation biologist in the Environment and Sustainability Institute at the University of Exeter, said in a statement.These were once dependable cues for prey-rich water, butclimate changeand industrial fishing have depleted fodder fish stocks in this system.

Richard Sherley sizing up a juvenile African penguin. Timothee Cook/ University of Exeter

Working closely with government scientists from South Africa and Namibia, spacecraft trackers were attached to 54 adolescent penguins from eight different colonies. This allowed the team to track the entire species breeding distribution and see how the colony was faring over time.

As their normal diet of sardines and anchovies had begun to aggregate far out of range east than they used to, multiple colonies are having difficulty surviving and consequently rendering viable offspring. Their numbers are declining, and its not clear if they will be able to adapt to these changes before its too late.

African penguins are already classified as jeopardized its own population numbers have entered freefall for some time now. This survey points out that we are indirectly doing everything we can do exacerbate this.

Our results support suspending angling when prey biomass drops below certain levels, and suggest that mitigating marine ecological traps will require major conservation action, Sherley added.

Sigh. Sorry penguins. I know we suck, but simply hang in there.

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