Tracking Antarctic penguins:

What can we learn from one species’ growing numbers while others are in decline?

For more than two decades, Oceanites, a non-profit organization with the central mission of assisting science-based conservation recommendations in Antarctica* and increasing the awareness of climate change worldwide) has collected data on penguin and seabird species on the Antarctic Peninsula in order to learn more about climate change and to protect the Antarctic environment. Supporting Oceanites is part of the Hurtigruten Foundation’s continued tracking of climate-related changes in the Antarctic.

In their last report from 2020 on the five Antarctic penguin species, Oceanites highlights an interesting development for three of the species that reside on the Antarctic Peninsula. While the Adélie and the Chinstrap Penguins are in increasing decline, the Gentoo Penguins are increasing in numbers. Oceanites wants to use this data to increase awareness of climate change, its potential impacts on humans, and how we might adapt to it, through the lens of the penguin.

There is much we can learn from how the different penguin species tackle the current climate change in the Antarctic Peninsula. The severe decline in two of the species may be the result of several issues, ranging from krill availability and potential shrinking in stock size, to rising temperatures and retreating sea ice due to global warming. The Gentoo Penguins, on the other hand, are showing impressive ways of adapting to the rapid change. ”With funding from the Hurtigruten Foundation, we can continue to track these developments and hopefully see adaptations that can be used in our own battle with climate change as well”, says David W. Lippy, Oceanites’ Director of Development.

Antarctic penguins have existed for 60 million years. Can they survive climate change?

Oceanites will continue to collect and report on significant changes in the Antarctic environment and its penguin species. It has also kick-started several new projects that you can read about on its website. The Hurtigruten Foundation awarded a multi-year grant in 2020 to Oceanites, who receives funding on projects related to research and awareness-raising in regards to changes to the vastly warmed Antarctic Peninsula. So far, the organization has raised about $20,000 to help with these projects. Oceanites hopes to send staff with Hurtigruten during the forthcoming Antarctic seasons.

How can I find out more?

Would you like to help count Antarctic penguins? As a Hurtigruten guest, you can explore the Antarctic Peninsula through our expedition cruises aboard MS Roald Amundsen, MS Fridtjof Nansen, and MS Fram. You can also read more about the Oceanites and its ongoing work on its webpage.

About Oceanites

Oceanites is a non-profit organization. It operates internationally with the central mission of assisting science-based conservation recommendations in Antarctica and increasing awareness of climate change worldwide. Over the past 27 years, the organization has made more than 2,100 site visits and collected data from more than 250 different Antarctic locations.