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Emperor penguins

Emperor Penguins & Climate Change

At nearly four feet tall, the emperor penguin is Antarctica’s largest sea bird—and one of the continent’s most iconic animals. Unlike other sea birds, emperor penguins breed and raise their young almost exclusively on sea ice. If the ice breaks up and disappears early in the breeding season, massive breeding failure may occur. Disappearing sea ice may also affect the penguins’ food source, says WHOI biologist Stephanie Jenouvrier. The birds feed primarily on fish, squid, and krill, a tiny, shrimplike animal, which in turn feeds on even tinier zooplankton and phytoplankton living in and under the ice. (Photo by Stephanie Jenouvrier, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

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