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Discovery of the first Emperor penguin Aptenodytes forsteri colony in Marie Byrd Land, Antarctica

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posted on 2023-05-26, 11:34 authored by Lea, M-A, Soper, T
Emperor Penguins Aptenodytes forsteri have been reported to breed at a total of 45 colonies surrounding the Antarctic Continent (Woehler 1993, Mellick & Bremers 1995, Coria & Montalti 2000, Todd et al. 2004). Their known breeding distribution extends from the Antarctic Peninsula at Snow Hill Island (64¬¨‚àû31‚ÄövÑ‚â§S, 57¬¨‚àû27‚ÄövÑ‚â§W) eastwards along the coasts of Dronning Maud Land, Enderby Land, Mac. Robertson Land and Wilkes Land to Cape Crozier on Ross Island (77¬¨‚àû31‚ÄövÑ‚â§S, 169¬¨‚àû23‚ÄövÑ‚â§E). Sightings of Emperor Penguins in rarely-visited Marie Byrd Land have been reported, although no colonies have ever been recorded in the sector between the Dion Islands (67¬¨‚àû52‚ÄövÑ‚â§S, 68¬¨‚àû43‚ÄövÑ‚â§W) in Marguerite Bay on the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula and the Ross Sea (Woehler 1993). Because of the persistence of sea ice late into summer in this sector, few ships are able to reach the coast before post-breeding adults disperse from their colonies in December and early January. Since 1993, one of the few vessels to explore this section of coast has been the Russian icebreaker Kapitan Khlebnikov, carrying commercial tourists. Previous sightings of numerous adult Emperor Penguins on ice floes off the Getz Ice Shelf east of Siple Island in January 2003 (F.S. Todd pers. comm.), and of discoloured ice and penguin feathers close to the same ice shelf in late January 2000 (M.A. Hindell pers. comm.), suggested the possibility of an unrecorded breeding colony in the region.


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Marine Ornithology







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