Thousands of penguins from a colony in Antarctica disappeared almost overnight three years ago when a storm destroyed the ice they were growing up on and drowned them according to a report.
Emperor penguins on the Brown Ice Shelf in the Weddell Sea need spots of sea ice to be bred and the ice must remain until the young chickens are ready to swim. If it breaks up prematurely, they will drown, which is apparently what happened in 201
6, BBC News reported. The disappearance was discovered by a team from the British Antarctic Survey who documented it through satellite images.
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Strong winds held the ice together in 2016 and it was never properly reformed, researchers said. The emperors have not shown any signs of trying to grow it again and some have left for other breeding grounds in the Antarctic. Experts are not sure why the ice has not been reformed and there is no clear sign of the cause is climate change. However, research shows that disappearing sea ice could reduce the emperor penguin population by as much as 70 percent by the end of the century, according to the report.
Although the penguin’s chickens had not been killed by the ice-ice reduction, an iceberg twice the size of New York City set to break off the shelf would likely destroy any of the existing sea ice, the BBC reported.
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Antarctic Emperor Colony constitutes between five and nine percent of the global population