Michael Polito, © Louisiana State University
Adélie penguins have been waddling into our hearts for quite some time now. The sweet Antarctic fellas — who always appear to look surprised — have also been the subject of concern for many scientists over the last few decades. The International Union for Conservation of Nature had listed Adélie penguins as "near threatened" with extinction, and one National Geographic article questioned whether they'd be extinct by 2017 in some areas. Biologists were sure that the population of Adélie penguins was steadily declining over the years — or so they thought.
(Photo Credit: Richard McManus/Getty Images)
In a March 2018 paper, published in Scientific Reports, scientists announced the exciting discovery of a previously unknown "supercolony" of Adélie penguins. A "supercolony" in this context means more than 1,500,000 of these birds in the Danger Islands, which is a chain of remote and rocky islands off of the Antarctic Peninsula's northern tip. But take one look at the photo below and all you'll be thinking is that it's super cute!
(Photo Credit: Michael Polito, © Louisiana State University)
Researchers say that until recently, this area was not thought to be an important penguin habitat. Plus, considering how remote these islands are — and how treacherous the waters were surrounding them — it's not shocking that most scientists weren't making trips down there to check it out. But back in 2014, some eagle-eyed folks at NASA spotted some telltale signs of penguin habitation around there. By December 2015, a group of brave scientists set out to explore the regions for themselves. Imagine their surprise when they saw hundreds of thousands of precious faces like these!
(Photo Credit: Mint Images - Art Wolfe/Getty Images)
After using drone imagery to get an accurate bird count from above, the scientists were able to say with confidence that Danger Islands actually holds the largest population of Adélie penguins on the Antarctic Peninsula. Who would've thought?
Well, we couldn't be happier that these Adélie penguins are not only surviving — but also clearly thriving. Keep waddling on, little guys!
Next, learn all of the most adorable names for baby animals of different species in the video below:
h/t Eureka Alert