Thanks to images of faecal matter, a colony of over 1.5 million penguins was discovered. By Gayatri Moodliar

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Photo by @daisygilardini In October, rockhopper penguins return to their colonies to breed. They usually raise two chicks. After the eggs hatch, the parents alternate time at the nest. During the day, one of the parents is at sea fishing. That parent returns to the nest by late afternoon, to feed the chicks and relieve their partner. Over time, the chicks fledge — develop feathers large enough to fly — and are ready to leave the colony by the end of February. This is a very busy time on the beach, with groups of penguins coming and going. Due to their rapid population decline, the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species lists this species as “Vulnerable.” Scientists believe climate change is the major factor in their decline. #climatechange #penguin #rockhopperpenguin #birdphotography #climatechangeisreal #nikon #lowepro #loweprobags #gitzoinspires #frametheextraordinary #Framedongitzo @gitzoinspires #eizousa #visualizeoneizo #sandisk #westerndigital

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Fortunate NASA satellite imagery led to the discovery of 751,527 pairs of Adélie penguins in Danger Islands, Antarctica, which is comprised of nine islands. This is the first estimate of penguin population for this area, which was last surveyed in 1996/7. As these colonies were previously unknown, they now hold positions of being the third and fourth largest Adélie penguin colonies in the world (Heroína Island and Beagle Island, respectively). After seeing the satellite images, the team went to the location themselves and counted the birds by hand and by using a modified quad-copter drone to take images from above.

One reason as to why these penguins haven’t been acknowledged yet is because the islands are surrounded by a thick layer of ice and are incredibly remote.  

“It’s a classic case of finding something where no-one really looked! The Danger Islands are hard to reach, so people didn’t really try that hard,” Dr. Tom Hart from Oxford University told BBC News. 

This has provided a bit of good news, as elsewhere, the penguin population is seeing a decline due to climate changes. The aim of the study is to emphasise the importance of continuous regional monitoring, and recommend more adequate means of protection.   

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