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Betty the Butterfly's Blog >>

Counting Penguins From Space

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The Emperor Penguin is the largest species of penguin in the world and is natively found inhabiting the pack ice on and around the Antarctic continent. They are the most southerly breeding penguins and unlike other species, they spend their whole lives in the deep south.

Emperor Penguins are also unique amongst penguins as instead of breeding in the warmer summer months, eggs are laid at the beginning of the bitter winter, with the males left to face the freezing cold and strong winds for two months whilst incubating their eggs.

Due to the fact that they are found so far south and can travel up to 200km across the ice to reach their breeding grounds, the first colony wasn't discovered until 1902 with new Emperor Penguin colonies still being recorded as late as 1986.

Until recently, there were estimated to be up to 350,000 individuals on and around the Antarctic continent. However, a recent study conducted by the UK, USA and Australia has shown that numbers are actually higher, with 595,000 Emperor Penguins having been recorded.

The use of satellite technology has not just helped to provide a proper estimate of their population numbers but it is also proving vital in recording the affects of global warming on the pack ice. Although the results are positive, it is expected that Emperor Penguin numbers will decline in the future due to the melting of their natural habitats.

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