Climate change endangers baby penguins

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

“I’m so cold momma, hug me!”

Researchers have discovered that baby penguins are dying from climate change, since their fragile bodies aren’t able to survive the rough conditions.

In Punta Tombo, Argentina, the world’s largest colony of Magellanic penguins are struggling with increased temperatures and rainstorms due to weather changes. Baby penguins lack weatherproof downy (soft feathers), so they can’t enjoy a refreshing dip in the water on a hot day. Since their downy soaks so easily, they can get drenched and die from hypothermia – when body temperature drops into dangerously low levels.

As for the penguins on Ross Island, Antarctica, parents are having trouble catching fish to feed their young. Sea ice is breaking apart and creating gigantic icebergs that make hunting very difficult. Baby penguins are left with an empty belly and have less energy to resist cold storms.

If these climate changes continue, researchers aren’t sure how strongly the bird populations will be affected. In fact, they believe there will be years where almost no chicks survive, especially if bigger storms happen more often.

Featured image courtesy of Liam Quinn on Wikimedia. Image of baby penguin courtesy of Christopher Michel on Wikimedia.