A supercolony of 1.5 million penguins went unnoticed until now

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While we battle through some Arctic conditions of our own here in the United Kingdom, a previously undiscovered "supercolony" of Adélie penguins has been found on the ominously named Danger Islands in Antarctica.

A previously unknown "supercolony" of more than 1.5 million penguins has been discovered by scientists in the Danger Islands, a chain of nine islands located off the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula.

The researchers, who describe the discovery in the journal "Scientific Reports", say it's a complete surprise.

It could also help them understand what is causing other populations to decline when these penguins are thriving.

So how were all those birds missed for all these years?

This may have been due to their remoteness and the hard waters that surround them: even in the summer, anyone trying to reach the islands can expect to deal with thick sea ice.

Working off evidence from satellite imagery captured by NASA in 2014, scientists from various institutions mounted an expedition to the area to conduct a population survey - which included the use of drones to help count the number of penguins. It is the very large population of known.

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That's promising news for a species whose numbers have been steadily declining over four decades amid rising temperatures and melting sea ice on the western side of the Antarctic peninsula.

Landsat satellite offered images showing lots of penguins' guano (excrements of the penguins) suggesting that the Danger Islands are inhabited by hundreds of thousands of penguins.

The duo teamed with ecologists from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and other universities in the U.S. and United Kingdom for an expedition in 2015.

The researchers went for an on-foot exploration and revealed that the Danger Islands host more than 750,000 pairs of Adelie penguins, representing the largest population in the Antarctic Peninsula. To discover without a doubt, Lynch cooperated with Stephanie Jenouvrier, a seabird environmentalist at WHOI, Mike Polito at LSU and Tom Hart at Oxford University to mastermind a campaign to the islands with the objective of tallying the winged creatures firsthand.

Animals inhabit rocky archipelago called risky island. "Food availability? That's something we don't know", she says. The global Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources says it will consider creating the sanctuary when it meets in Australia in October.

"If we look at the future projections of climate change and the pace of climate change, even areas like the Danger Islands have the potential to be negatively affected", he said.