„A68“ is drifting towards the island – huge iceberg threatens penguin colonies

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Foto: imago images/Westend61

An iceberg more than twice the size of Mallorca is drifting towards the island of South Georgia in the Atlantic. Millions of penguins and other animal species live there. The ice masses could endanger their survival. A collision could also have fatal consequences for marine life. The world’s largest iceberg floating in the South Atlantic could pose a threat to penguins and other animal species. Scientists warned that the iceberg named A68 could hit the island of South Georgia in 20 or 30 days. Penguins, seals and species of birds living there may then no longer be able to properly supply themselves with food. Global warming has accelerated the breakup of icebergs in Antarctica. The current case could have a devastating impact on the abundance of wildlife in the UK overseas territory of South Georgia. The A68 broke away from the Larsen C ice shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula in July 2017. It weighs thousands of billions of tons. Its area is more than twice that of Mallorca. At the speed at which he is currently drifting through the South Atlantic, he could reach the rather shallow waters of the island in 20 to 30 days. Since it is 160 kilometers long and 48 kilometers wide, but only 200 meters deep, it could come dangerously close to the coast. „The chance of a collision is 50 to 50,“ said Andrew Fleming of the British Antarctic Survey.

Hundreds of thousands of king penguins live on the island of South Georgia alongside crested penguins, chinstrap penguins and gentoo penguins. Seals and wandering albatrosses are also native to the island. Should the iceberg settle near the island, the parents of birds could have problems caring for their offspring – which could seriously endanger their survival. The lives of baby seals could also be in danger. „The numbers of penguins and seals could drop dramatically,“ said Geraint Tarling of the British Antarctic Survey. The ecosystem on the sea floor could also be disrupted. Its recovery could take decades or even centuries. In addition, the iceberg has „stored nutrients and dust for hundreds of years, which are now being released and gradually fertilizing the oceans,“ added Geraint Tarling. The formation of icebergs is a natural process that is accelerated by the warming of the air and the oceans, the scientists emphasized. The west of the Antarctic is therefore one of the regions in the world that is warming up particularly quickly.

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