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New breeding site and records of king penguins (Aptenodytes patagonicus) on King George Island (South Shetlands, Western Antarctic)

  • Piotr Gryz (a1), Alina Gerlée (a2) and Małgorzata Korczak-Abshire (a3)

The king penguin (Aptenodytes patagonicus) is a pelagic species that breeds on sub-Antarctic islands relatively close to the Antarctic polar front. After a significant decline at the beginning of the twentieth century because of widespread exploitation by sealers, the species’ numbers are currently increasing, with observed local fluctuations. There has also been an increase in the number of sightings in the Antarctic, and recorded breeding attempts in this area. Here we present the history of observations of king penguins from 1977 to 2017 in two Antarctic Specially Protected Areas: ASPA No. 128 Western Shore of Admiralty Bay, and No. 151 Lions Rump, King George Island, South Shetland Islands (Western Antarctic). Additionally, we report on a new breeding site at Lions Rump, the third known breeding site for this species in the South Shetland Islands. Together with observations from other parts of the archipelago, the information in this study supports earlier suggestions of a southerly expansion of this species and of attempts to colonise the Antarctic Peninsula region.

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