Penguin droppings spotted from space reveal colonies

Previously unknown 'supercolony' of Adélie penguins discovered in Antarctica

Using multiple simultaneous counts on the ground, quadcopter-based aerial photography and high-resolution satellite imagery they found that the Danger Islands have 751,527 pairs of Adélie penguins, more than the rest of the entire Antarctic Peninsula region combined.

Heather Lynch (Heather Lynch) from stony brook University in NY.

"We were surprised to find so many penguins on these islands, especially because some of these islands were not known to have penguins".

They arrived in December 2015 and counted the birds with the help of a drone that took pictures once every second.

Singh developed the drone's imaging and navigation system and plans to use the images from the drone, to look for penguin nests, using a neural network software. The scientists also used a drone to photograph the area, looking for penguins.

A massive collective of penguins forming a super colony have been discovered in a part of Antarctica that hasn't been impacted by climate change.

Researchers involved with the project said the drone technology has been key because it will provide insight on penguin dynamics and the effects of climate change. Indeed, even in the austral summer, the close-by sea is loaded with thick ocean ice, making it to a great degree hard to get to.

Danger Islands expedition team members on Heroina Island, Danger Islands, Antarctica.

Lynch said that the discovery of the new penguin population will have "real consequences for how we manage this region", which is being considered in the designation of future Marine Protected Areas in the region.

"Not exclusively do the Danger Islands hold the biggest populace of Adélie penguins on the Antarctic Peninsula, they likewise seem to have not endured the populace decreases found along the western side of Antarctic Peninsula that are related with late environmental change", says Polito. What they discovered really shocked them.

'We were... very lucky to have a window of time where the sea ice moved out and we could get a yacht in, ' said Lynch.

When the Landsat data originally suggested the presence of hundreds of thousands of penguins on the islands, she thought it "was a mistake".

Eight or more major colonies of this species along the Antarctic Peninsula were believed to have vanished because of the changes in the annual ice conditions.

"The population of Adélies on the east side of the Antarctic Peninsula is different from what we see on the west side, for example", said one of the authors, Stephanie Jenouvrier from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

A breakthrough discovery of this scale offers ecologists hope: Even in the age of Google Earth, maybe we don't know our planet as well as we think we do.

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