Secret penguin super-colony discovered

Adelie penguins are doing a little better than previously thought…

With some help from above, scientists have discovered an enormous colony of Adelie penguins that no-one knew existed.

In 2014, NASA satellite footage found something strange. On a rocky collection of islands in the Antarctic were unmistakable penguin guano stains. The amount of feces visible in the images suggested that more than a few penguins called this isolated spot home. The Danger Islands are remote and – as the name suggests – surrounded by perilous waters full of sea ice, and no-one had considered them a likely location to find penguins.


The next year, a brave group of researchers made the journey to see just how many there were. They were surprised to find thousands upon thousands of Adélie penguins living on the ice and soil of the Danger Islands.Using a drone, they began the intimidating task of counting the birds. The drone flew in a grid over the island, taking a photo every second to produce a giant image of the whole area. Software was then used to scour through the collage and tally up the total population number.


The result? 751,527 pairs.


That’s more Adélie penguins than the combined populations of every other colony in the Antarctic Peninsula. It’s great news, because colonies in the western side of the peninsula are in decline due to climate change.


Check out the remarkable footage in this video from Time:

Feature image: Thom Miller/flickr