Just over one-quarter of adult Magellanic penguin bodies were found between the colony and the ocean.
In June 2021, an unprecedented heat wave hit the Pacific Northwest and Canada, killing an estimated 1,400 people. On June 28, Seattle reached 108 F — an all-time high — while the village of Lytton in British Columbia recorded Canada’s highest-ever temperature of 121.3 F on June 29, the day before it was destroyed by a heat-triggered wildfire.
Climate change is expected to bring more such extreme heat events globally, with far-reaching consequences not just for humans, but for wildlife and ecosystems.
In 2019, University of Washington researchers witnessed this in Argentina at one of the world’s largest breeding colonies for Magellanic penguins. On Jan. 19, temperatures at the site in Punta Tombo, on Argentina’s southern coast, spiked to 44 C, or 111.2 F, and that was in the shade. As the team reports in a paper published Jan. 4 in the journal Ornithological Applications, the extreme heat wave killed at least 354 penguins, based on a search for bodies by UW researchers in the days following the record high temperature.
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