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Large Antarctic iceberg breaks away, heads toward important wildlife island

Antarctica UN Climate Change
Posted at 8:03 PM, Dec 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-09 23:03:05-05

The South Georgia Islands might not be permanently populated by humans, but it is an important sanctuary for penguins, seals and other various creatures in the South Atlantic.

But a giant iceberg, A68a, could threaten the wildlife on the islands, according to the Government of South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands.

With the assistance of the Royal Air Force, the government has been tracking the iceberg’s movement toward the islands. While the islands do not have a permanent population, they are visited by tourists and others.

According to the BBC, A68a was 150 kilometers from South Georgia. The concern is the iceberg could disrupt breeding for penguins on the island.

“We are now entering the key part of the year for breeding," Mark Belchier, director of fisheries and environment for the government of South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands, told BBC News.

"The nests have been built for gentoo penguins, and eggs will be laid soon. And the first seal pups have been born in the last fortnight," he added.

The islands used to be populated on a more permanent basis as a small settlement ran a whaling station.

Before air travel, the islands were used by explorers to prepare for treks to Antarctica. Whalers on the island also played a key role rescuing Sir Earnest Shackleton’s crew after his expedition became stranded on Antarctica’s Elephant Island.