Entire Generation of Penguins Dies In 'Catastrophic' Antarctic Breeding Season
A colony of about 40,000 Adélie penguins in Antarctica has suffered a “catastrophic breeding event” – all but two chicks have died of starvation this year. It is the second time in just four years that such devastation – not previously seen in more than 50 years of observation – has been wrought on the population.
Ropert-Coudert said the region had been severely affected by the break-up of the Mertz glacier tongue in 2010, when a piece of ice almost the size of Luxembourg – about 80 km long and 40km wide – broke off. That event, which occurred about 250km from Petrels Island, had a big impact on ocean currents and ice formation in the region.
“The Mertz glacier impact on the region sets the scene in 2010 and when unusual meteorological events, driven by large climatic variations, hit in some years this leads to massive failures,” Ropert-Coudert told the Guardian. “In other words, there may still be years when the breeding will be OK, or even good for this colony, but the scene is set for massive impacts to hit on a more or less regular basis.”
Starving Polar Bear's Last Hours Captured in Heartbreaking Video
A hard-to-watch video from Canada's Baffin Islands shows an emaciated polar bear in what were likely the last few hours of its life.
National Geographic photographer Paul Nicklen captured the sad sight on video and posted it online Dec. 5. The video shows the bear staggering toward a trash can and searching in vain for something to eat.
Nicklen’s video, which he shot on a trip for Sea Legacy, depicts an emaciated polar bear, its coat patchy, seemingly near death on an island in a Canadian territory inside the Arctic Circle. It searches for food in a rusted garbage can and chews what Nicklen said was an old snowmobile seat.
It ends with the bear resting on the ground, exhausted.
"When scientists say bears are going extinct, I want people to realize what it looks like. Bears are going to starve to death," Nicklen said. "This is what a starving bear looks like."
“It’s a soul-crushing scene that still haunts me, but I know we need to share both the beautiful and the heartbreaking if we are going to break down the walls of apathy,” he wrote. “This is what starvation looks like. The muscles atrophy. No energy. It’s a slow, painful death.”
The video was shot on Somerset Island in the upper reaches of Canada. Nicklen and his team saw the bear, and shot the video from about 400 feet away, he said. Nicklen, 49, who grew up in the region on nearby Baffin Island, said that he had never seen a bear in such poor condition before.
“We stood there crying — filming with tears rolling down our cheeks,” he told National Geographic.
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