Could Global Warming Kill the World’s Smallest Penguin?

Samantha Zeitz

The life of the blue penguin, Eudyptula Minor, might become increasingly difficult, and not because of their tiny size.

Native to Australia, the animals stand on average under a foot tall. They are covered in grey and blue feathers with a white patch on their underside. These characteristics explain the various names the penguins carry such as: little penguins, blue penguins, and fairy penguins.

Land-based mammals threaten the Eudyptula Minor. Because of this they have adapted to traveling in colonies to make their appearance more intimidating. Unfortunately this strategy will not protect them against their newest threat, global warming.

Environmental experts say global warming is making it difficult for these little penguins to find food because their prey is sensitive to heat. The more the water temperatures increase, the harder it is for the penguins to find adequate amounts of food.

“We’re seeing that warm years are quite bad for the penguins, and it’s not hard to see that if the temperature keeps going up, things might get worse,” Macquarie University graduate, Gemma Carroll told National Geographic.

Reports indicate that the East Australian current has been increasing as temperatures rise. Over the last half of the 20th century, the surface water temperatures have raised by over a full degree Celsius. Research has shown that the fish the penguins feed on tend to avoid warmer waters. Gemma Carroll has been tracking a group of the fairy penguins for three years. From this she has found that the penguins are more likely to feed in cooler waters where they know there will be more fish.

Sadly, for these penguins, warmer waters aren’t their only threat. Human activity, increased predator population and new predators introduced by humans such as cats, dogs and foxes are a big problem for them. On top of all these present threats, global warming is going to be a big problem to add to their list.