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Chinstrap penguins

Feeling the Heat

Chinstrap penguins pant on a warm summer day at Orne Harbor, in the western Antarctic Peninsula, during a research expedition led by WHOI post-doctoral scholar Michael Polito and Tom Hart from the University of Oxford. Over the past half-century, climate change has caused a dramatic increase in air and sea temperature, significant decreases in winter sea ice, and reductions in krill—the main food source for penguins. As a sentinel species of the Antarctic ecosystem, research by Polito on Chinstrap penguins and WHOI biologists Stéphanie Jenouvrier and Hal Caswell on Emperor penguins suggests that populations are declining due to climate-driven reductions in food and breeding habitat.

(Photo by Michael Polito, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)


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