Fluffy Penguins

Penguins are atop most folks’ AWW (Adorable Waterfowl of the World) lists. Well listen, y’all, I’m here to set the record straight. I’ve come nose-to-beak with more than a few penguins during my time in the Antarctic, and I want the northern hemisphere to know that these waterbirds are a force to be reckoned with. I mean, just take a look at these Adelie penguins:

Nine-and-a-half pounds of brawn!

Fearsome krilling machine!

Okay, fine, they’re pretty cute. You might be amused to learn, however, that penguins are in fact much stronger than you’d expect, and expert swimmers to boot. That said, the effects of climate change are felt more intensely on the West Antarctic Peninsula than anywhere else in the marine world (five times the global average in winter temperature increases!), and there’s not much for an Adelie to do about the 40% decrease in sea ice since the 1980s besides moving farther south. A few degrees may not have much of an impact on whether you wear shorts or pants on any given day, but if your life cycle relies on the extent of ice each year? A few degrees is the difference between life and death!

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