Iceberg Wipes Out 150,000 Antarctic Penguins

Two Adelie penguins stand on a block of melting ice atop a rocky shoreline at Cape Denison, Commonwealth Bay, East Antarctica, in this picture taken on January 1, 2010. A Canadian zoo doesn't want to risk letting its penguins go outside in the weather, at 40 degrees below zero. Pauline Askin/Reuters

Seemingly overnight, roughly 150,000 Adélie penguins in Antarctica have perished. The cause? The intrusion of a mammoth iceberg near their colony, dubbed B09B, has left them virtually stranded and unable to procure food nearby, according to a paper published earlier this month in the Antarctic Science Journal.

Once boasting 160,000 penguins, the colony now has a mere 10,000, according to figures from the University of New South Wales's Climate Change Research Centre. Unless the iceberg melts or is wedged out of the bay, researchers estimate the colony of penguins will vanish well within 20 years.

The region was left essentially landlocked thanks to another iceberg that became lodged in the bay back in 2010. The taxing journey to retrieve food, as far as 60 kilometers one way, has caused the number of penguins in the colony, near Cape Denison in Commonwealth Bay, to dwindle significantly over the past few years, reports The Guardian.

The paper notes that a population of Adélie penguins living just 8 km from this region, on the eastern cusp of the bay, curiously continued to flourish, leading researchers to believe that B09B is immediately responsible for the sharp decline in penguins in the vicinity of the iceberg.