The number of penguins in the Danger Islands could provide insight into the effects of changing temperature and sea ice on the region's ecology. The colony features around 1.5 million penguins, according to a newly published study detailing the collective, and they're described as "thriving" in their remote, icy home. "But with only two hours on land it was impossible to estimate the size of the population before sea ice conditions forced us to leave", Polito said. But, these very characteristics of the island made the nearly impossible to be directly studied by men and no one has adventured there.
Polito and his team visited the islands, and had the luck of visiting it at a time when the sea ice levels were low and the penguins were nesting there and weren't traveling. At first, the scientists considered the Landsat images were a mistake or error of some kind but researchers went for a field exploration.
Using multiple simultaneous counts on the ground, quadcopter-based aerial photography and high-resolution satellite imagery they found that the Danger Islands have 751,527 pairs of Adélie penguins, more than the rest of the entire Antarctic Peninsula region combined.
Scientists have reported the discovery of a supercolony of Adelie penguins in Antarctica which host more than 1.5 million birds.
The Danger Islands, said the team, has felt the ravages of climate change less than the western peninsula, and knew very little human activity.
"The drone lets you fly in a grid over the island, taking pictures once per second". In 2015, researchers from LSU, Oxford University, Stony Brook, Northeastern University and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution traveled to the island chain to count the birds.
Ms Lynch said: "One of the ways in which this is good news is that other studies have shown this area (the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula) is likely to remain more stable under climate change than the western Antarctic Peninsula".
Dr Hart told The Telegraph "This is the biggest colony discovered recently".
The finding is of major relevance because it shows the super-colony was able to avoid recent Adelie declines documented elsewhere on the Antarctic peninsula.
'In the past we've looked at this on the West Antarctic Peninsula versus places like Elephant Island (further to the north). Clearly climate change and reduction in ice and krill play a part, but a decline in sea-ice also allows in shipping - fisheries in particular - which may exacerbate the problem. He also uses satellites to identify and count animal groups.
"We want to understand why".