Experts Warn Emperor Penguins Are at Risk of Extinction

The emperor penguin’s disappearance could have a dramatic effect on the ecosystem in the Antarctic. (REUTERS/Martin Passingham)

Emperor penguins are at risk of extinction, according to conservationists and researchers.

On Friday, an expert from the Argentine Antarctic Institute (IAA) warned that changes could come within the next 30 to 40 years, with climate change as the driving force.

“[Climate] projections suggest that the colonies that are located between latitudes 60 and 70 degrees [south] will disappear in the next few decades; that is, in the next 30, 40 years,” IAA biologist Marcela Libertelli told Reuters.

She said that loss of solid sea ice in the Antarctic from April through December would disrupt the penguins’ reproductive cycle and noted that increased tourism and fishing has impacted food sources for penguins and other species.

The emperor penguin’s disappearance could also have a dramatic effect on the ecosystem there.

In a statement, the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) said last month that urgent action needed to be taken, with the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) projecting that around 80% of emperor penguin colonies will be quasi-extinct by the year 2100 under current levels of carbon dioxide emissions.

The researchers also predicted that the total number of emperor penguins could decline by at least 81% under that scenario and that — under extreme circumstances — up to 100% of colonies could become quasi-extinct by 2100, with the number of emperor penguins projected to decline by at least 99%.

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SOURCE: New York Post; Fox News, Julia Musto