Hotter than average temperatures may be threatening penguins in Norway, but in Antarctica, one special kind of penguin is doing better than ever.
That's the Adélie penguin. They look like this:
Adélie penguins are the smallest penguins in Antarctica, and even though they have those freaky white rings around their eyes and instead of teeth they have rather unsettling tooth-shaped barbs on their tongues, they are still very cute and fun-loving.
They are the ones who slide around the ice on their bellies and sled down snow hills on their bums, living it up in what looks like a freezing but fantastic winter wonderland.
Actually, all that sliding and sledding is so they can conserve energy and move around the ice without getting too tired.
They are also the ones in "Happy Feet" who have the Mexican accents. Connection unclear.
ANYWAY. Adélie penguins have long been thought to be a barometer for climate change and fishing in the Southern Ocean that surrounds Antarctica. So, the fact that ecologists have been tracking their decline for decades hasn't been great news.
But now a new study suggests the Adélie penguins are healthier than ever. Apparently, there are 53 percent more of them than we thought.
Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan, July 26, 2013. (Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP/Getty Images)
Great news, right? Pretty much. The turnaround is probably more due to the fact that new technology has allowed ecologists to find colonies of the birds that they didn't know were there before — as opposed to the fact that known colonies are doing better. Researchers found 17 new colonies and did not find 13 old ones, so.
Nor does this new finding indicate that climate change isn't doing damage around the Antarctic Peninsula. It has and is.
But still. There are stable or growing populations of Adélie penguins in Eastern Antarctica and the Ross Sea.
The upshot is that there are more of these guys than we previously thought and they are doing well. That's good news without a catch.