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Only 2 of 18,000 Adélie penguin chicks survived summer

Staff Writer |
Just two out of 18,000 Adélie penguins in an Antarctica colony survived this summer because ice made food more difficult to find, the World Wide Fund (WWF) for Nature said.

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Adélie penguins typically survive on a diet of krill but scientists said unusually extensive sea ice in one particular colony in Terre Adélie this summer forced the adult birds to travel farther for find food for their chicks.

"Adélie penguins are generally faring well in East Antarctica, but declining in the Antarctic peninsula region where climate change is well established," the organization said in a statement.

"However, this significant breeding failure at this particular colony in East Antarctica has been linked to unusually extensive sea ice late in the summer, meaning the adult penguins had to travel further to forage for food for their chicks.

"As a result the chicks starved."

Researchers said the same colony failed to produce a single chick four years ago, due to heavy sea ice, unusually warm weather and rain, and a rapid drop in temperature. The chicks froze to death.