The eighty scientific leaders of the Homeward Bound expedition touched down on Paulet Island, in the extreme northeast of the Antarctic Peninsula, where an extensive colony of Adélie penguins stands out, an almost threatened species that lives a migration towards the south of the white continent.
On day 4 of the expedition, after set sail in the New Year of the port of the Argentine city of Ushuaia and overcome the turbulent passage of Drake or Sea of Sickles, the look leads to a small circular island, 1.6 kilometers in diameter , monopolized by hundreds of thousands of Adelia, who, with their characteristic plumage, similar to a tuxedo, walk from one side to another as if looking for something.
When crossing the Antarctic, from the ship you can see the penguins in open areas, in the icebergs, on the rocky coasts and even some approach the bases that several countries have on the continent.
In the case of Paulet Island, located in the northwest sector of the Weddell Sea, the home of the Adelia is made up of a volcanic landscape, with a cone that reaches 350 meters in height, and an esplanade on the north side of the island.
This visit is representative for Homeward Bound, an Australian program supported by the Spanish firm Acciona, since the journey seeks to highlight the leadership of women in matters of global interest such as climate change and, according to scientists, the Adelia are, precisely, one of the threatened species in Antarctica.
Although by nature they are migratory species during the breeding period, in recent years it has been detected that the Adélie penguin is leaving towards the south of Antarctica due to changes in its habitat.
"There is a vulnerability related to sea ice, the Adelia are among those who suffer the most from climate change and there are records that they have been moving southwards," like other species of penguins, "in search of that. sea ice, where they find their food ", explains to Efe Sharon Robertson, professor at the University of Wollongong, in Australia.
The basic food of this species, which measures about 70 centimeters, weighs 4 to 5, 5 kilos and can live up to 20 years, is the krill, a small creature found in the water.
But scientists aboard the Ushuaia, the ship of the expedition, believe that in the Weddell Sea has increased the temperature, which may explain that the Adélie (Pygoscelis adeliae), which prefer the krill of the coldest water, are leaving towards the south.
"Antarctica is a very sensitive place, especially the peninsula, where if the ice melts, it does not reflect the sun's rays and the temperature goes up, we feel a temperature (between 0 and 2 degrees with sun) that is very high for this part of the peninsula, "Cindy Shelito, professor of Meteorology and Climate Change at the University of Northern Colorado (USA), told Efe.
On Paulet Island, confirmed as a breeding place and also home to the cormorant bird, the cook gulls and Weddell seals, thousands of Adelia still remain and, during the tour, the expeditionaries were able to see several young, while other penguins They ran from one side to the other with rocks in their beaks for nests.
After finishing the day on Paulet Island, Ushuaia turns towards Maxwell Bay, where the Carlini base, the main scientific center of Argentina in Antarctica, awaits the expeditionary.
The Homeward Bound expedition departed on December 31 from Ushuaia, considered the southernmost city on the planet, and among more than a dozen planned stops are the Argentine base Carlini, the US base Palmer, the Ukrainian Vernardsky and the island Pleneau, adjacent to a "cemetery" of icebergs.
The tour will run until January 19 and will include the participation of Costa Rican Christiana Figueres, outstanding leader in the fight against climate change and women's empowerment.
Homeward Bound is a global initiative for women in the field of STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine) with a view to increasing their visibility as leaders in the world.
Diana Marcela Tinjacá