She said the supercolonies have undetected for decades because of the remoteness of the islands and the treacherous waters that surround them.
"Until recently, the Danger Islands weren't known to be an important penguin habitat", says co-PI Heather Lynch, Associate Professor of Ecology & Evolution at Stony Brook University. 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.
This may have been due to their remoteness and the hard waters that surround them: even in the summer, anyone trying to reach the islands can expect to deal with thick sea ice.
'Not only do The Danger Islands hold the largest population of Adélie penguins on the Antarctic Peninsula, they also appear to have not suffered the population declines found along the western side of Antarctic Peninsula that are associated with recent climate change, ' he said.
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The detective work started in 2014, when satellite images taken from space showed enormous guano stains (guano being bird poop), per the Wall Street Journal.
Scientists are eager to study the birds, to figure out how they've managed to survive in such large numbers all of these years, while their numbers plummeted on other parts of Antarctica.
When the Landsat data originally suggested the presence of hundreds of thousands of penguins on the islands, she thought it "was a mistake".
Researchers aren't certain about why this penguin super colony has remained stable and strong for so long, but they have their suspicions.
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"Despite concerted global effort to track and interpret shifts in the abundance and distribution of Adélie penguins, large populations continue to be identified", says the article.
An expedition was organised in December 2015 where the team saw the colonies for themselves and used drones to record overhead views. Well, the Danger Islands are fairly remote, even by Antarctica standards.
The Danger Islands group was discovered thanks to Earth-monitoring satellites, said the research team from America, Britain and France.
Scientists are now calling for the area to be considered for protection in the form of "marine protected areas" - in order to help shield the large penguin population from the impact of human activity. These also provide evidence to support the proposed Marine Protected Areas near the Antarctic Peninsula.
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