Photos: Sharp decline in the number of chinstrap penguins in Antarctica

Scientists studying the impact of climate change in some colonies in Western Antarctica have deduced that the number of chinstrap penguins in the region has fallen by as much as 77% since they were last surveyed in the 1970s. Greenpeace is calling on the United Nations to commit to protect 30% of the world's oceans by 2030, a target called for by scientists and a growing number of governments as the minimum needed to halt the damage being done by harmful human activity. The UN will meet from March 23 to April 3 to try to agree a global ocean treaty, which could then take years to ratify.

UPDATED ON FEB 12, 2020 06:30 PM IST 12 Photos
1 / 12
A group of chinstrap penguins walk on top of an iceberg floating near Lemaire Channel, Antarctica. The number of these penguins in some colonies in Western Antarctica has fallen by as much as 77% since they were last surveyed in the 1970s, say scientists studying the impact of climate change on this remote region. (Ueslei Marcelino / REUTERS)

A group of chinstrap penguins walk on top of an iceberg floating near Lemaire Channel, Antarctica. The number of these penguins in some colonies in Western Antarctica has fallen by as much as 77% since they were last surveyed in the 1970s, say scientists studying the impact of climate change on this remote region. (Ueslei Marcelino / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON FEB 12, 2020 06:30 PM IST
2 / 12
A pair of chinstrap penguins swim near Two Hummock Island. The chinstrap penguin, named after the narrow black band under its head, inhabits the islands and shores of the Southern Pacific and Antarctic Oceans and feeds on krill. (Ueslei Marcelino / REUTERS)

A pair of chinstrap penguins swim near Two Hummock Island. The chinstrap penguin, named after the narrow black band under its head, inhabits the islands and shores of the Southern Pacific and Antarctic Oceans and feeds on krill. (Ueslei Marcelino / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON FEB 12, 2020 06:30 PM IST
3 / 12
Crew members stand aboard the front of the Esperanza ship near Lemaire Channel. The scientists, travelling on two Greenpeace ships, the Esperanza and the Arctic Sunrise, conducted their expedition to Western Antarctica from January 5 to February 8, and used manual and drone surveying techniques to assess the scale of the damage. (Ueslei Marcelino / REUTERS)

Crew members stand aboard the front of the Esperanza ship near Lemaire Channel. The scientists, travelling on two Greenpeace ships, the Esperanza and the Arctic Sunrise, conducted their expedition to Western Antarctica from January 5 to February 8, and used manual and drone surveying techniques to assess the scale of the damage. (Ueslei Marcelino / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON FEB 12, 2020 06:30 PM IST
4 / 12
Steve Forrest counts chinstrap penguins in a colony on Anvers Island. “The declines that we’ve seen are definitely dramatic,” Forrest, a conservation biologist told Reuters. “Something is happening to the fundamental building blocks of the food chain here. We’ve got less food abundance that’s driving these populations down lower and lower over time and the question is, is that going to continue?” (Ueslei Marcelino / REUTERS)

Steve Forrest counts chinstrap penguins in a colony on Anvers Island. “The declines that we’ve seen are definitely dramatic,” Forrest, a conservation biologist told Reuters. “Something is happening to the fundamental building blocks of the food chain here. We’ve got less food abundance that’s driving these populations down lower and lower over time and the question is, is that going to continue?” (Ueslei Marcelino / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON FEB 12, 2020 06:30 PM IST
5 / 12
Greenpeace activist Usnea Granger, 36, drives a boat near Quentin Point, Anvers Island. Visiting Antarctica was “a dream come true” for Granger, who worked as a deck hand on the expedition. “I think climate global chaos is wreaking havoc everywhere and I don’t imagine Antarctica will be any different from that,” she told Reuters. “It feels like a privilege to see it now before it starts to change anymore.” (Ueslei Marcelino / REUTERS)

Greenpeace activist Usnea Granger, 36, drives a boat near Quentin Point, Anvers Island. Visiting Antarctica was “a dream come true” for Granger, who worked as a deck hand on the expedition. “I think climate global chaos is wreaking havoc everywhere and I don’t imagine Antarctica will be any different from that,” she told Reuters. “It feels like a privilege to see it now before it starts to change anymore.” (Ueslei Marcelino / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON FEB 12, 2020 06:30 PM IST
6 / 12
Michael Wethington, a scientist, collects rubbish on Snow Island. The number of chinstraps at one important habitat in the region, Elephant Island, has plummeted by around 60% since the last survey in 1971, to fewer than 53,000 breeding pairs today, the expedition found. (Ueslei Marcelino / REUTERS)

Michael Wethington, a scientist, collects rubbish on Snow Island. The number of chinstraps at one important habitat in the region, Elephant Island, has plummeted by around 60% since the last survey in 1971, to fewer than 53,000 breeding pairs today, the expedition found. (Ueslei Marcelino / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON FEB 12, 2020 06:30 PM IST
7 / 12
A seal swims among broken pieces of ice near Quentin Point, Anvers Island. “While several factors may have a role to play, all the evidence we have points to climate change as being responsible for the changes we are seeing,” said Heather Lynch, associate professor of ecology and evolution at Stony Brook University. (Ueslei Marcelino / REUTERS)

A seal swims among broken pieces of ice near Quentin Point, Anvers Island. “While several factors may have a role to play, all the evidence we have points to climate change as being responsible for the changes we are seeing,” said Heather Lynch, associate professor of ecology and evolution at Stony Brook University. (Ueslei Marcelino / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON FEB 12, 2020 06:30 PM IST
8 / 12
A colony of chinstrap penguins walk along a mountain on Two Hummock Island. The World Meteorological Organisation said last week that a research base in Antarctica had recorded the hottest temperature ever for the continent—18.3 degrees Celsius—as global warming causes an increase in melting of the ice sheets around the South Pole. (Ueslei Marcelino / REUTERS)

A colony of chinstrap penguins walk along a mountain on Two Hummock Island. The World Meteorological Organisation said last week that a research base in Antarctica had recorded the hottest temperature ever for the continent—18.3 degrees Celsius—as global warming causes an increase in melting of the ice sheets around the South Pole. (Ueslei Marcelino / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON FEB 12, 2020 06:30 PM IST
9 / 12
A colony of chinstrap penguins gathers on Anvers Island.A pungent smell of penguin excrement informs the scientists that they are nearing a colony even before they can hear the birds’ loud, harsh call. The birds have not learned to fear humans, so they mostly ignore their visitors. (Ueslei Marcelino / REUTERS)

A colony of chinstrap penguins gathers on Anvers Island.A pungent smell of penguin excrement informs the scientists that they are nearing a colony even before they can hear the birds’ loud, harsh call. The birds have not learned to fear humans, so they mostly ignore their visitors. (Ueslei Marcelino / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON FEB 12, 2020 06:30 PM IST
10 / 12
The moon shines over icebergs near Fournier Bay. Greenpeace is calling on the United Nations to commit to protect 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030, a target called for by scientists and a growing number of governments as the minimum needed to halt the damage being done by harmful human activity. (Ueslei Marcelino / REUTERS)

The moon shines over icebergs near Fournier Bay. Greenpeace is calling on the United Nations to commit to protect 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030, a target called for by scientists and a growing number of governments as the minimum needed to halt the damage being done by harmful human activity. (Ueslei Marcelino / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON FEB 12, 2020 06:30 PM IST
11 / 12
Rocky peaks on Snow Island. “I think we stand to lose much of what we love... like the penguins from Elephant Island, but I think in the end it’s what kind of world do we want to live in?” Frida Bengtsson, Greenpeace Oceans campaigner, told Reuters off Anvers Island. “Our oceans are incredibly important to regulate our global climate,” she further added. (Ueslei Marcelino / REUTERS)

Rocky peaks on Snow Island. “I think we stand to lose much of what we love... like the penguins from Elephant Island, but I think in the end it’s what kind of world do we want to live in?” Frida Bengtsson, Greenpeace Oceans campaigner, told Reuters off Anvers Island. “Our oceans are incredibly important to regulate our global climate,” she further added. (Ueslei Marcelino / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON FEB 12, 2020 06:30 PM IST
12 / 12
Greenpeace activists play in the snow during a day off at Orne Harbour. The UN will meet from March 23 to April 3 to try to agree on a global ocean treaty, which could then take years to ratify. (Ueslei Marcelino / REUTERS)

Greenpeace activists play in the snow during a day off at Orne Harbour. The UN will meet from March 23 to April 3 to try to agree on a global ocean treaty, which could then take years to ratify. (Ueslei Marcelino / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON FEB 12, 2020 06:30 PM IST
SHARE
Story Saved