ANTARCTICA, 2009

A group of chinstrap penguins on an iceberg

lanting antartica© Frans Lanting

It is the coldest and most inhospitable continent on the planet, with temperatures between -20°C and -80°C. And yet, despite the extreme environmental conditions in Antarctica, some animals have adapted perfectly to these territories. The chinstrap penguin (Pygoscelis antarticus) is one of these: a small penguin, not even one metre tall, which inhabits the frozen expanse of the Antarctic sea ice cover.
Although it lives in one of the remotest places on the planet, the chinstrap penguin is one of the animals being hit hardest by the effects of climate change caused by human activity. Greenpeace, the environmental organisation, was the first to raise the alarm. In February 2020, on an expedition of two ice-breakers to several of the islands in Antarctica, it documented a dramatic reduction in penguin numbers, with some populations down 77% compared to the '70s.
A decline like this shows how the Antarctic environment has been dramatically changing over recent decades, influencing the lives of the creatures that inhabit it, and above all this species, with a terrible domino effect.
This is a serious emergency which according to Greenpeace highlights the need to create ocean sanctuaries, large protected areas of ocean, in which these animals can recover and adapt to a climate undergoing rapid change. In this way, it will not only help protect Antarctic biodiversity, but also our blue planet.

Martina Giagio