These adorable King penguins are already falling victim to warmer oceans


Penguins are the cuddly faces of the Southern Hemisphere and among the most recognizable birds known to brave the chilly Southern Ocean. But like so many other charismatic favorites of the animal kingdom — especially those that inhabit the world’s coldest places — they’re starting to suffer the effects of climate change.

The king penguin, an iconic black, white and yellow bird second only in size to the emperor penguin, is among the latest species to feel the heat. King penguins raise their chicks on the sub-Antarctic islands north of Antarctica and dive for fish in the frigid waters at the northern reaches of the Southern Ocean. But their breeding and foraging behaviors may be at risk as ocean temperatures heat up in the Southern Hemisphere. New research shows that warm sea-surface temperature anomalies in the region can cause shifts in the marine environment where they feed, forcing the birds to travel farther and dive deeper for their food — and causing declines in their populations.