Emperor Penguins: On Their Way to Extinction

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Emperor Penguins have been around for millions of years. Although they are a type of bird they can not fly. They walk, slide on their stomachs, or swim. They can swim up to nine kilometers an hour. That is faster than an average person can run. Emperor Penguins can hold their breath over twenty minutes and dive over eighteen hundred feet. Another interesting fact about them is that they show no aggression towards humans. The real question is though whether or not Emperor Penguins are on their way to extinction? Some of the reasons why we may think this would be climate change, depletion in food supply, pollution, tagging, and their predators. Climate change is the reason for the Emperor Penguin population to decline by fifty percent over the past fifty years. Penguins use the ice to escape from predators, and to raise their chicks. A temperature increase of 2.1 degrees Celsius will jeopardize forty percent of the world’s Emperor Penguins. When the ice melts before the chicks have matured and grown their waterproof feathers, chicks that are swept into the ocean are likely to die. If the ice isn’t sturdy enough to last until when the chicks are ready to head out to sea, they aren’t going to be able to raise them. The loss of sea ice for adult penguins can lead to lower food availability, which can result in increased mortality. In Antarctica an Emperor colony has declined from 250 pairs to 10 pairs since 1960, due to rapid loss of the sea ice. Since global climate change has been causing the rapid melting of sea ice, the amount of krill in the southern oceans has decreased in recent years. Krill in which many penguins feed upon, survive by feeding off the algae which forms on the underside of the sea ice. So the reduction in sea-ice which has resulted from climate change has meant there has been much less food for penguins to eat. If this continues to happen the Emperor Penguin population is going to keep on declining. Over fishing of krill, and fish is another...
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