Warming, a reduction in the ice area, as well as a change in the food supply can lead to the extinction of some species of penguins, the highest risk is for penguins-inhabitants of the islands, who prefer a cool climate, told RIA Novosti an employee of the Zoological Museum of Moscow State University, ornithologist Pavel Smirnov on Penguin Awareness Day. which is celebrated on January 20.
"The most vulnerable of the living penguins are narrow-range species, whose populations are concentrated in a limited number of colonies on small islands around Antarctica. Any changes in the habitat, including climatic ones, risk bringing down the already low abundance of these birds to critically low values," - said Smirnov.
He clarified that the greatest danger of extinction is threatened by the Chinstrap penguins of the genus Pygoscelis, which are found in
Antarctica, the islands of the Southern Ocean, as well as subantarctic islands such as the Falklands and Kerguelen. In addition, spectacled penguins of the genus Spheniscus, living off the southern coast of Africa, southern South America and even the Galapagos Islands, may disappear.
"Global warming can act indirectly. For example, species that are not affected by an increase in average annual temperatures by themselves, may suffer from changes in rainfall, depletion of food resources or as a result of taking advantage of more thermophilic competing species," the scientist explained.
The interlocutor of the agency noted that the interaction of penguins with alien species and overfishing of fish and cephalopods, which the penguins feed on, also increase the pressure on the penguins and reduce their chances of survival.
"Nevertheless, the life of these flightless birds at a significant distance from humans guaranteed a relatively quiet life for most of their species. There is only one known case when the persecution by humans and the mammals introduced by them led to the complete extinction of a whole species of penguins. This happened in the XV-XVII centuries, when on the New Zealand islands of Chatham, following their colonization by the Moriori Polynesians, the native species of crested penguins, the Chatham penguin (Eudyptes chathamensis), died out, "Smirnov noted.
As Elena Zharkova, the representative of Russia in the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Conservation Coalition (ASOC), clarified, the problem of the extinction of penguins is urgent and is being discussed at international negotiations on the preservation of Antarctica.
"According to the 2019 expeditions, the number of chinstrap penguins on Penguin Island has fallen by 75% over the past 40 years. Krill, the main food source of penguins, is disappearing. % of the territory of the Southern Ocean was protected, "Zharkova said.