Satellite images have revealed 11 previously unknown emperor penguin colonies in Antarctica, boosting the number of known colonies of the imperilled birds by 20 percent.
The discoveries were made by spotting the distinctive red-brown guano patches the birds leave on the ice. The finds were made possible by higher-resolution images from a new satellite, as previous scans were unable to pick up smaller colonies.
Two of the colonies were a particular surprise. They were found far from the coast, living on sea ice that is anchored to grounded icebergs, a location never seen before.
The new colonies are thought to number a few hundred penguins each, which is smaller than average, so the discoveries increase the total population of emperor penguins by a smaller proportion of about 5 to 10 percent.
Emperor penguins are the