Penguins and their homeland
Penguins have lived in Antarctica as long as it is known. Since then, earth has experienced several climate changes, some drastic and some mild. Through all these changes, penguins have stayed strong and nothing has affected them. However, now, with sea warming up, the situations have changed. Penguins now have to relocate their home to find a place more suitable for them. It is happening all so fast, and it is expected that by the end of this year, Antarctica would be declared to be unfit for penguins.
Climate change is affecting the penguins in two ways: by changing their surrounding home place and by decreasing the availability of food. Penguin’s most common diet is krills and fish. These sea animals don’t survive due to the temperature rise in the sea. Apart from the food requirements, the warm climate is also hampering their nesting place. With the rise in temperature, Antarctica which was or else a very cold and perfect habitat for penguins receive unprecedented rainfalls or snowfalls. Due to this, the land gets filled with small puddles, which is bad for the eggs. Chicks that are born without waterproof feathers are affected the most by these puddles as they become wet too soon and die of hypothermia.
To investigate this very problem, Yang Liu, a doctoral student of Robotics at Northeastern University, went to Elephant Island. On arriving there, Liu noticed the snow-clad mountains and the steep edges, an environment which says only one thing, that humans are not welcome there. However, the irony is, humans have always been there, have always invaded the place. Liu along with Hanumant Singh, a professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Northeastern University, went ahead to count the number of chinstrap penguins in Antarctica. When they completed their count, they compared their results to that of the one taken in the year 1971 and realised that the number of chinstraps have now reduced to half. A warmer temperature might make it easier for humans to arrive there, but it is definitely going to make a very unique animal extinct.
Teena Rose Tom