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Pictures From Space Reveal HUGE Colony Of Animals No One Knew About

"The sheer size of what we were looking at took our breath away."

Shocked scientists just discovered a huge colony of roughly 1.5 million animals no one knew existed — all because images of their feces could be seen from space. 

Researchers were combing through images from NASA, looking for signs of a kind of penguin when they came across what looked like piles of poop. And this was potentially a really good sign.

"The sheer size of what we were looking at took our breath away," Heather Lynch, a scientist from Stony Brook University, told the BBC. "We thought, 'Wow! If what we're seeing is true, these are going to be some of the largest Adélie penguin colonies in the world, and it's going to be well worth our while sending in an expedition to count them properly."

After getting higher definition images from drone cameras, scientists confirmed that there was a mega-colony of Adélie penguins on the eastern side of Antarctica no one knew was there.

These kinds of penguins, known for their fierce devotion to their babies, have faced recent threats because of melting sea ice and declining food sources on the western side of Antarctica. Last year, one colony suffered a catastrophic breeding failure when penguin parents had to travel unusual distances to find food, and all but a few babies of the colony died of starvation.

This latest discovery of the colony in the Danger Islands shows that these kinds of penguins tend to thrive in areas too remote to be touched by human beings. 

The scientists, who just published their findings in Scientific Reports, hope that the discovery of this mega-colony will help bring protections to this environment, especially since penguins have been declining on other parts of Antarctica because of complications related to climate change.

"It's a classic case of finding something where no one really looked!" Tom Hart, a scientist from Oxford University, added

To help protect penguins and their habitat, you can make a donation to the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition.