CLAIM: Climate Change Cited for Penguin Decline

Guest Post by Bob Vislocky, Ph.D.

Chinstrap penguin, Copyright 1993 Charles Rotter

CBS news recently reported a 50% decline in the number of chinstrap penguins residing on Elephant Island and a 75% decline of those living on Penguin Island all because of ….. drum roll please ….. global warming!

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/global-warming-cited-as-antarctica-chinstrap-penguin-population-drops-by-half/

As the article above states, the nearly 3* C of global warming over the last 50 years caused a reduction of sea ice, which in turn results in a reduction of krill that eat the algae and other organisms that live underneath in the sea ice. As the krill population declines so does that of the chinstrap penguin since krill is their favorite food.

Ironically, the journal article below from a 1991 study claimed that the chinstrap penguin population increased during the 1900s *because* of global warming. So apparently global warming can both increase and decrease the penguin population. Wish the climate community would get their story straight!

https://marine.rutgers.edu/dmcs/ms606/2011%20fall/Fraser%20et%20all%201992.pdf

Adding even more confusion, the following informational page from the Australian Department of Environment states that the chinstrap penguins have lower breeding success when there is more sea ice as it restricts access to the sea for foraging adults.

But the original CBS article says that more sea ice means more krill and a higher population of chinstrap penguins.

http://www.antarctica.gov.au/about-antarctica/wildlife/animals/penguins/chinstrap-penguins

So let’s sum this all up:

  • Global warming = decline in the # of chinstrap penguins
  • Global warming = increase in the # of chinstrap penguins
  • More sea ice = lower breeding success of chinstrap penguins
  • More sea ice = increase in the population of chinstrap penguins

So basically no matter what happens to the penguin population, climate change has all the bases covered. Expect anything different?

Back to the recent CBS article, the argument of “global warming = less sea ice = fewer krill = penguin decline” is not relevant for the Antarctic where sea ice has actually held its own or even increased over time (figure 1) based on a recent PNAS study. So if there is a local change in sea ice near Elephant and Penguin Islands, then it’s more likely due to a regional fluctuation rather than a CO2-induced global change.

clip_image002

Figure 1. https://www.pnas.org/content/116/29/14414

So what does better explain the decline in chinstrap penguins that the CBS article conveniently fails to mention? Overfishing!!

https://psmag.com/environment/overfishing-krill-in-antarctica

76 thoughts on “CLAIM: Climate Change Cited for Penguin Decline

    • Actually, I thought the next empathetic appeal would be for seals and walruses that are threatened by a resurgent polar bear population… The truth is that they were never endangered. All through their lean days. Their bare existence.

      • “The truth is that they (polar bears) were never endangered”

        In the 1950’s they were down to an estimated 5,000 and listed as endangered.
        Hunting got severely restricted, resulting in a steady incline to this date.
        WWF & Prince Charles sees this differently though.

    • Climate change giveth and climate change taketh away.

      …hmm sounds all too familiar.
      Meanwhile, while we sort this out, just to be safe, let’s toss another virgin into the volcano …NOT!

  1. I would go with the over fishing rather than climate. The volume of Krill being taken for food, be it animal or human, has been increasing year on year (don’t have the figures). This is the biggest threat to the wildlife. The recent Sky report on plastics in the antarctic is portraying the pollution of “Pristine” areas of the region. Unfortunately they seem to be sampling areas where cruise ships go (not that I would imply anything!!). It always seems to be mankind that is the problem rather than climate cycles.

    • Global warming means that Leopard Seals have more energy and can swim faster.
      What’s that, Penguins would have more energy, too?
      But they’re so little, so not so much.

      Climate alarm means being able to rationalize anything.

    • I agree. I foretold of dire consequences when the commercial krill harvest started. Contrary to the imaginings of the insect eating greentards, eating further down the food chain is not a good sign. It shows that you are incapable of managing higher trophic levels and eating lower trophic levels in natural systems puts more species at risk. We should eat blue finned tuna but only after we are sure we know how to manage them.

    • I agree with you about the krill. Why do humans need to eat krill as a “supplement” when baleen whales and other aquatic life need to eat them to survive?

    • It doesn’t even have to be over fishing, whale numbers have been climbing back it could simply be competition for krill. The problem we have is there is little data to know what the actual balance numbers look like.

  2. Apparently Nature causes nothing now, because we don’t understand how it works- conveniently we can blame everything on Mann kind and make up the lack of understanding by promulgation of junk science. I’m sick for my children’s future…

  3. It is so 1970’s with “over-fishing” headlines.
    Good headlines today must embed “climate change”

  4. Slightly off topic – there is an infestation of locusts in Kenya. How long before we see media articles that blame it on global warming/climate change? My money is on Monday morning for print media and radio/TV but the internet might have it by tomorrow.

    • Morano’s site has a story about the grasshoppers. Yes, claimed due to climate change as usual. Even the wagy pedia explains that grasshoppers some years breed extraordinary if weather condition and rainfall is just right. One of the worst years 1971, as far as I remember, where an area the size of California was covered with the hoppers.
      Sometime in the 1800’s there was an enormous year, so this has nothing to do with climate change as such, just weather and local conditions.

      • yeah they had good rains as they benefitted from the IOD keeping the rain on africa(if massive floods are a benefit) and ofcourse the Locust eggs hatched to take advantage of the huge growth of grasses
        same thing happens in Aus everytime we get good rains and big crops too. this spring or next depending on rains we are due for another round here too;-(

    • One report I saw (BBC I think) used the word “unprecedented”. Maybe they forgot about the escapades of Moses in Egypt all those years ago. Bible knowledge isn’t as good as it used to be…

  5. Y’see honey since we shouldn’t have babies (climate change) … and it didn’t really mean anything … forgive me … climate change.

  6. It’s mostly whales that eat the krill, along with some squids and small fish. So, maybe the problem is too many whales, think Green Peace Save the Whale efforts, and the Japanese have harvested less whales, the whales increase and eat the krill, and the poor Chinstrap Penguins go hungry. I’m thinking of a cure here, but it is not politically correct, so never mind.

    • I wonder if the population of Chinstrap Penguins increased during the period of whaling in the Southern Ocean?

      I all likelihood, it’s a combination of whale population recovery and over fishing in the area.

  7. As we are now we’ll aware humans can get fatal viruses from birds, we should not exclude possibility that lethal viruses can transfer in the opposite direction, particularly in a pristine area as the Arctic is. It would not be first time that the ‘western’ men have caused grief in the areas they went to explore.

        • I am duly impressed, just need a week or so to try and understand.
          In the meantime, I promise to not introduce any penguins to koalas …
          oops that would be polar bears.

          • Hi againIn 1990s I worked for few years with an engineer ( Mr. C. Slater) who spent a year in the Antarctic, and had many opportunities to hear of many interesting facts from a person who was actually there.

    • And…so what?

      Didn’t Genghis Khan and Tamerlane cause grief in the areas they went to conquer? By killing millions and…

      “The epidemic (Black Death) in fact began with an attack that the Mongols launched on the Italian merchants’ last trading station in the region, Kaffa (today Feodosiya) in the Crimea. In the autumn of 1346, plague broke out among the besiegers and from them penetrated into the town. When spring arrived, the Italians fled on their ships. And the Black Death slipped unnoticed on board and sailed with them.”

      https://www.historytoday.com/archive/black-death-greatest-catastrophe-ever

      So… will you blame “western men” and give “eastern men” a pass?

      Of course you will. Because shut up.

      • Hi Anna
        Thanks for your comment, I have no grievance against either western or eastern or any kind of men or women for that matter, it was just a passing remark, so my apologies if you found it offensive. I normally try not to reply in kind, and will not make an exception this time, particularly since a lady is in question. Have nice day.

  8. Recent efforts to count penguins have had problems:

    “There Are Millions More Penguins Than We Thought
    Scientists undercounted the Adelie penguins on Antarctica by 3.6M”
    https://www.newser.com/story/239823/there-are-millions-more-penguins-than-we-thought.html

    “150K ‘Dead’ Penguins Might Just Be Chilling Elsewhere“
    https://www.newser.com/story/220669/150k-dead-penguins-might-just-be-chilling-elsewhere.html

    If this goes bust, I suspect the next research will conclude that climate change is causing mass migrations of penguins. In truth, I doubt if we really understand penguin proclivities.

    I suspect they just migrated to a place with a better food supply, or maybe this is the year they go south to visit Aunt Peggy.

  9. First, they declared the polar bears endangered Now, they are fat and content. Today, it’s the penguins. Will no one save the birds that risk life and limb to cross the windmill gauntlets?

  10. I would like to bring this up, from march 2018:

    Previously unknown ‘supercolony’ of Adélie penguins discovered in Antarctica
    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/03/180302090958.htm

    “For the past 40 years, the total number of Adélie Penguins, one of the most common on the Antarctic Peninsula, has been steadily declining — or so biologists have thought. (…) In a paper released on March 2nd in the journal Scientific Reports, scientists announced the discovery of a previously unknown “supercolony” of more than 1,500,000 Adélie Penguins in the Danger Islands, a chain of remote, rocky islands off of the Antarctic Peninsula’s northern tip.”

    Nature is amazing. Different species of penguins though, but what do we actually really know?

    I know only one thing for sure: Global Warming aka Climate Change is the most ignorant and backward believe ever. When do these people understand that, if something (manmade CO2 in this case) causes everything that’s bad, it causes nothing? It’s all superstition and mass hysteria. Wake up and smell the guano!

  11. The populations were probably unnaturally high – owing to the removal of chief penguin predators and krill competitors by man. They are probably just returning to more normal levels as said hunters and competitors recover. Of course it was climate change what done it guv’. But read between the lines. The truth is in there.

    e.g. https://www.pnas.org/content/108/18/7625

    Also Penguins have little biological defence against germs present outside the Antarctic. Interference by tourism/scientists studying them to protect them from climate change is no doubt a killer. I can’t find any reference but I’d also wager introduced rodents etc. are eating eggs and chicks (as is/was a major part of the problem of albatross decline and hence the eradication programs on S.Georgia etc.).

  12. There is another and probably more important reason for the decline in penguin populations. The baleen whale populations are recovering. The large whales were hunted to near extinction in the Southern Ocean by the 1970’s. This meant much more krill became available for penguins, and penguin populations increased almost everywhere.

    Now the whale stocks are slowly recovering and eating more and more krill, and penguins have a harder time finding food.

    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/6216706_Abrupt_recent_shift_in_d13C_and_d15N_values_in_Adelie_penguin_eggshell_in_Antarctica

  13. “Adding even more confusion,…”

    The confusion disappears once the reader realizes that
    a) These people know almost nothing about the real population fluxes,
    b) They understand even less,
    c) They will say anything and tell any lie in order to get attention and funding.

    There was another location reported on a few years back when researchers decided to double what they previously estimated as the current penguin population. That of course then gives them an opportunity to count them again in the future and blame any alleged decrease on global warming.
    Just as temperatures are adjusted up and then down later by some climatists for their convenience, we shouldn’t be surprised if others decide to do the same thing with penguins.

  14. “….So what does better explain the decline in chinstrap penguins that the CBS article conveniently fails to mention? Overfishing!!…..”

    I have a paper coming out shortly – just as soon as I get a grant and write it – which explains how Climate Change is the cause of over-fishing….

  15. So I : Climate change (A) causes Penguins # decline (B)
    and II : (A) causes the Opposite of (B)

    Thus taking the contrapositive of II :
    III : (B) causes the Opposite of (A)

    And by transitivity, I and III give :

    (A) causes the Opposite of (A).

    This “climate change” narrative is nothing but a farcical absurdity.

  16. Locust infestation is a result of inefficient and ill-coordinated anti-locust operations. As for malaria. Symptom of the African problem.

  17. If indeed there is a decline in penguins due to decreased krill … I think the first place I’d look would be the commercialization of krill oil.

    Fat lazy humans unwilling to live healthy think krill oil is the answer, and you don’t burp up fish taste like you do with fish oil.

  18. Nearly 9,000 polar bears were killed by hunters in the Arctic between 2007 and 2016, the most recent figures available.
    More than 50,000 polar bears have been killed since 1960 – twice as many as today’s remaining population.
    The figures, much higher than previous estimates, were only brought to light after the Norwegian’s lawyers forced the Canadian government to release them under Freedom of Information laws.
    Canada’s Arctic region is now the only place in the world where hunting polar bears is still legal.
    https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/polar-bears-extinct-trophy-hunting-21355000?fbclid=IwAR1zl4h0gUkFahsIU0a9ZKys8K8d4_eIOmENQDn3CfNUZC1E_ddf6d6wLas

    • There is actually a fair amount of yellow and orange in several species. And Adelie penguins have blue eyes which is of course a bit suspect from a diversity viewpoint.

  19. 1. Looked up Penguin Island. Only found one and its off Australia and is a tourist hot spot. No mention of Chinstraps though but some other penguin species are common. Doubt sea ice is a factor there.

    2. Elephant Island is one of dozens of islands scattered around Antarctica but it is not mentioned as a primary location for Chinstraps. The penguins are listed as common throughout the southern ocean and are listed as “least concern” regarding population.

    I did notice that both islands are tourism cruise destinations. Perhaps researching penguin populations is a good way to get an exotic vacation cruise paid for by your grant (not to be cynical or anything).

    • Chinstraps are an arctic species not found in Australia. There is any number of Penguin Islands in the Southern Ocean.

  20. Warmistas have also recently reported a 50% decline in the number of elephants residing on Penguin Island and a 75% decline of those living on Elephant Island because of a loss of sea ice preventing elephants from walking there, all caused by global warming!

  21. Maybe I misunderstood something here not being scientifically minded, but I think the fact the Gentoo are increasing at the same time as the Chinstrap decline (if they haven’t just moved on to better areas) would demonstrate greater “adaptability”.
    Probably a good lesson for all penguins if only they read these publications

  22. “So let’s sum this all up:

    Global warming = decline in the # of chinstrap penguins
    Global warming = increase in the # of chinstrap penguins
    More sea ice = lower breeding success of chinstrap penguins
    More sea ice = increase in the population of chinstrap penguins
    So basically no matter what happens to the penguin population, climate change has all the bases covered. Expect anything different?”

    Yes sir. The science of this apparent contradiction is explained here:

    https://tambonthongchai.com/2020/01/13/human-pollution-the-planet-is-doomed/

  23. For years now I have postulated that increased CO2 causes larger human teeth, just look your grandchildren.
    Penguins do not have teeth, so are disadvantaged by climate change=more CO2 and by classic Darwinian selection. Geoff S

  24. It’s the humpback whales eating all the krill so the poor penguins starve. Each one eats about 2000kg of krill and small fish per day. Over 30,000 whales migrate from Antarctica up the east coast of Australia every year, increasing by 10% each year. And thats not counting probably similar population migrating along South Africa and south America When whaling was banned in the 1970s there were suposedly only about 5000 humpbacks remaining world wide.

  25. Great story, Bob Vislocky, Ph.D. !

    Amazing,

    a Ph.D., President & Owner With 18 years experience in the fields of meteorology, computers, and statistics, / without a Journalism Degree

    does

    what the whole pack of journalists, the bunch of journalists can’t deliver:

    The right facts, and only the right facts, objective and balanced.

  26. As always a n.b.

    Great story, Bob Vislocky, Ph.D. !

    Amazing,

    a Ph.D., President & Owner With 18 years experience in the fields of meteorology, computers, and statistics, / without a Journalism Degree

    does

    what the whole pack of journalists, the bunch of journalists at CBS news can’t deliver:

    The right facts, and only the right facts, objective and balanced.

    ____________________________________

    OTOH – sure that’s applicable to almost every pack of journalists, bunch of journalists and journalist crowds.

    ____________________________________

Comments are closed.