BEACON TRANSCRIPT – Climate change makes more and more victims one moment at a time. English researchers have discovered that African penguins are in danger of extinction because of climate change.
The researchers discovered that the juvenile African penguins were being fooled and that the ecosystem was setting up traps for them. The traps are made up of cues that should lead them to a rich feeding ground but, instead, the opposite happens.
Stephen Votier, researcher at the University of Exeter in the UK, is one of the leading authors of the study. He stated that these cues should lead the penguins to a feeding ground. However, these grounds can no longer serve the feeding needs of the penguins.
The main cues that led the penguins to their fish prey included low sea temperatures and high levels of chlorophyll. These used to be indicatives of the fact that plankton was near. Plankton was an important food source for both penguins and the fish they usually consumed. The penguins still move to places rich in plankton, but the fish are no longer there.
However, climate change and massive fishing have shortened the fish populations significantly. Thus, the penguins are attracted to areas where food is scarce.
One of the main meals of the African penguins consisted of forage fish. Because of climate change, the populations of forage fish have severely declined, thus causing a shortage in the African penguin populations, too.
The studies showed that these penguins cannot survive with the current food supply available around South Africa. Their numbers are now 50 percent lower than they would be if they had access to waters where the human impact was smaller.
At such a rate, the young African penguins have small chances of survival. They have been listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), since only about 50,000 specimens are left in Namibia and South Africa.
The IUCN stated food shortage and the impact of commercial fisheries as the main reasons for the threat of the penguins. Since there appears to be no improvement, they are planning to take immediate conservation measures. The scientists have even considered moving the African penguins to areas where food is more abundant.
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