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Yellow-eyed penguins could be wiped out in 25 years

Increasing sea surface temperatures in part explain the negative trend.  

New Zealand’s iconic Yellow-eyed penguins may go extinct within the next 25 years due to rising ocean temperatures and climate change, unless urgent conservation actions are undertaken, a new study has warned.

Researchers from the University of Otaga in New Zealand predict that the breeding success of the penguins will continue to decline to extinction by 2060, largely due to rising ocean temperatures.

The study highlights where conservation efforts could be most effective in building penguins’ resilience against climate change, researchers said.

The predictions do not include additional adult die-off events such as the one seen in 2013 in which more than 60 penguins died.

Progressively worse

“Any further losses of Yellow-eyed penguins will bring forward the date of their local extinction,” said Thomas Mattern from the university.

If the recent poor breeding years are included in the simulation of the future penguin population, things get progressively worse, researchers said.

“When including adult survival rates from 2015 into the models, the mean projection predicts Yellow-eyed penguins to be locally extinct in the next 25 years,” said Stefan Meyer from the university.

Increasing sea surface temperatures in part explain the negative trend in penguin numbers, according to the researchers.

The findings were published in the journal PeerJ .