Major emperor penguin breeding ground gone barren since 2016

WASHINGTON (AP) — A new study finds that for the past three years virtually nothing is hatching at Antarctica’s second biggest breeding grounds for emperor penguins and the start of this year is looking just as bleak.

Usually 15,000 to 24,000 breeding pairs of emperor penguins flock yearly to a breeding site at Halley Bay. But the study says but almost none of them have been there since 2016.

Study author Phil Trathan at the British Antarctic Survey says the breeding pair population has increased significantly at a nearby location, but not enough.

Scientists blame climate and weather conditions that break apart the “fast ice” — sea ice that’s connected to the land — where the emperor penguins stay to breed.

The study is in Wednesday’s Antarctic Science.

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