Someone to Watch Over Me
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Scientists fear that climate change is threatening the existence of Antarctica’s endemic emperor penguins.
A study last year found that warming temperatures and the melting sea ice could result in 98 percent of the penguin species disappearing by 2100.
To prevent this extinction event, researchers at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts have set out to closely monitor the flightless avians using a robot, CNN reported.
ECHO, a small, remote-controlled automaton, has infiltrated an emperor penguin colony in the Atka Bay to silently observe them as they go about their daily activities. The penguins were initially curious and fascinated by the three-foot-tall robo, but remain unbothered by its presence.
“We realized the birds were accepting ECHO really well,” said researcher Céline Le Bohec.
Le Bohec and her colleagues explained that the machine helps scientists keep an eye on the birds without adding any human interference to their colony. They added that the technology will aid researchers to observe the impact of climate change on other marine animals.
But ECHO is not the only one watching over the birds.
Recently, a post office at the British territory of Port Lockroy on Goudier Island was looking for someone that could sort mail, sell postage stamps and – most importantly – count penguins, according to NPR.
The lucky candidate will get to experience Antarctica and its fauna from November to March.
Still, the job application warned that life on the frozen continent is harsh: Temperatures can dip as low as 23 degrees Fahrenheit and accommodations are very limited.
Weeks can go by without any showers or running water, and communication is extremely limited – there is no internet access or cellphone reception.