Penguins from Space

Counting emperor penguins cannot be easy. They spend much of their time in the Southern Ocean and when they do come on land it’s to winter in the coldest and windiest place on Earth. Recently, a team from the British Antarctic Survey have found an easier way to keep tabs on the penguins – satellite images. Using these images the team found much higher numbers than previously thought about 595,000 birds – the previous estimate was 350,000. The satellite images also helped the researchers to find seven previously unknown colonies. This is the first comprehensive census of a species taken from space. As an animal that relies on floating sea ice for its breeding and nesting grounds, emperor penguins are thought to be particularly vulnerable to any warming of ocean temperatures from climate change. The census will help monitor more accurately the impacts of future change on this iconic species. On one of our Antarctic cruises we have a ‘penguinlogist’, Tom Hart, who has an extensive career working with remote penguin rookeries.  Tom’s project involves monitoring breeding by use of remote terrestrial cameras.  Tom will join voyages on the Ocean Diamond from November 22, 2012 to January 14, 2013.

RELATED: Watch this mesmerising penguin colony timelapse

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