by Brooks Hays
Cambridge, England (UPI) Jul 6, 2016
For the last three months, Mount Curry, a volcano on Zavodovski Island in the South Atlantic, has been erupting. In a new report, ecologists with the British Antarctic Survey warn that the eruption is putting local penguin populations at risk.
More recently, satellite imagery showed Mount Sourabaya on Bristol Island, another small island in the South Sandwich archipelago, had begun erupting.
Images captured by fishing boats and satellites show large plumes are depositing ash across much of the islands. On Zavodovski Island, ash is being deposited where a population of chinstrap penguins reside. At the time of the eruption, the penguins had just begun molting -- shedding their old feathers and sprouting new ones -- and were unable to leave the island.
"As the images were captured during the moult period for the chinstraps, the consequences could be very significant," Mike Dunn, an ecologist with BAS, said in a news release. "When the penguins return to breed later in the year, it will be interesting to see what impact this event has on their numbers."
"We don't know what impact the ash will have on the penguins. If it has been heavy and widespread it may have a serious effect on the population," added BAS geographer Peter Fretwell. "It's impossible to say but two scientific expeditions are scheduled to visit the region from later this year and will try to assess the impact of the eruption."
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