11 new Emperor penguin colonies discovered in Antartica
An incredibly exciting new discovery for all involved.
11 new Emperor penguin colonies have been discovered in Antartica, researchers have announced.
The new colonies, discovered during a recent study using satellite mapping technology, have increased the known Emperor penguin population to over half a million.
Researchers have dubbed the finding an "exciting discovery" given the expected reduction in population of many creatures living in the Antartica relying on continuously melting sea ice for survival.
The study, published in journal Remote Sensing In Ecology and Conservation, shows that the known Emperor penguin population has increased by between 5 and 10 percent, bringing the total number of colonies on the continent up to 61.
Researcher Dr Peter Fretwell told BBC News that although the discovery is promising, there remain concerns about the stability of the ice the penguins are living on.
"It's good news because there are now more penguins than we thought," he said. "This is an exciting discovery.
"But this story comes with a strong caveat because the newly discovered sites are not in what we call the refugia - areas with stable sea-ice, such as in the Weddell Sea and the Ross Sea.
"They are all in more northerly, vulnerable locations that will likely lose their sea-ice."
Emperor penguins are currently listed as a "Near Threatened" species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Researchers are asking for the birds to be included in the more urgent "Vulnerable" category.