It’s Penguin Awareness Day! Although this day may seem completely ridiculous, it’s actually becoming more important to be aware of the challenges facing penguins in the modern world. Okay, that sounded way more serious in my head but here’s the deal: Penguins are going extinct and more people need to know about it.
Like a majority of polar species, penguins are feeling the effects of climate change. The melting ice is changing their breeding grounds and overfishing and ocean acidification is affecting their food sources of fish, squid, and krill. Another consequence of climate change is more snow. Whilst this might be great for those of us wanting snow days, for Adélie penguins this can lead to a loss in habitat, as they only nest on bare, dry land. This then may cause chicks to hatch later such as in the springtime, when there is less krill around to eat, damaging the chick’s chances of survival.
It’s not only the penguins in Antarctica that are facing extinction, African penguins are also at risk. African penguins are listed as an endangered species, their decreasing population is due to loss of nesting grounds, which is due to guano removal by humans, as well as decreasing food supply as a result of overfishing. As well as this, sardines and anchovies have migrated south into cooler waters. In the 1930s, South Africa’s largest penguin colony had 1 million African Penguins, and that’s just the largest. Now, only 100,000 of the birds remain in all of South Africa and Namibia.
It is thought that by 2100, all forty-five known emperor penguin colonies of Antarctica will be on the decline, and nine of these colonies are predicted to be “quasi-extinct”. In 2008, a WWF study estimated that 50% of the emperor penguins and 75% of the Adélie penguins will likely decline or disappear if global average temperatures rise above pre-industrial levels by just 2 degrees Celsius, a scenario that could become a reality in less than forty years.
Penguins are vital to the Antarctic food chain, and to allow them to become extinct would have a devastating impact. However, you can do something to help stop these amazing creatures from becoming endangered or worse, extinct. The WWF are constantly looking for ways to further study penguins, and to find ways in which to stop their population declining and you can help them. You can adopt a penguin, donate money or even take their test to find out ways to reduce your carbon footprint. If you want to become more involved, head here to find out about the different ways you can take action.
See, we told you Penguin Awareness Day is important. Now, for something a little bit more light-hearted, enjoy these photos of penguins.
and finally…here is a gif of a penguin scaring Leonardo DiCaprio