Adelie Penguin, South Shetland Islands, Antarctic Peninsula

The Adélie penguin (Pygoscelis adeliae) is a species of penguin common along the entire Antarctic coast, which is their only residence. They are among the most southerly distributed of all seabirds, along with the emperor penguin, the south polar skua, the Wilson’s storm petrel, the snow petrel, and the Antarctic petrel. They are named after Adélie Land, in turn named for the wife of French explorer Jules Dumont d’Urville who discovered these penguins in 1840.

The South Shetland Islands are a group of Antarctic islands, lying about 120 kilometres (75 mi) north of the Antarctic Peninsula, with a total area of 3,687 square kilometres (1,424 sq mi). By the Antarctic Treaty of 1959, the islands’ sovereignty is neither recognized nor disputed by the signatories[citation needed] and they are free for use by any signatory for non-military purposes.

The islands have been claimed by the United Kingdom since 1908 and to be part of the British Antarctic Territory since 1962. They are also claimed by the governments of Chile (since 1940, as part of the Antártica Chilena province) and by Argentina (since 1943, as part of Argentine Antarctica, Tierra del Fuego Province).

Several countries maintain research stations on the islands. Most of them are situated on King George Island, benefitting from the airfield of the Chilean base Eduardo Frei.

There are sixteen research stations to date in different parts of the islands, with Chilean stations being the greatest in number. Research is often a shared duty of nations, with the Chilean-United States Shirreff Base being one example.

The Antarctic Peninsula is the northernmost part of the mainland of Antarctica, located at the base of the Southern Hemisphere. At the surface, it is the biggest, most prominent peninsula in Antarctica as it extends 1300 km (800 miles) from a line between Cape Adams (Weddell Sea) and a point on the mainland south of Eklund Islands. Beneath the ice sheet which covers it, the Antarctic Peninsula consists of a string of bedrock islands; these are separated by deep channels whose bottoms lie at depths considerably below current sea level. They are joined together by a grounded ice sheet. Tierra del Fuego, the southernmost tip of South America, lies only about 1000 km (620 miles) away across the Drake Passage.

The Antarctic Peninsula is currently dotted with numerous research stations and nations have made multiple claims of sovereignty. The peninsula is part of disputed and overlapping claims by Argentina, Chile and the United Kingdom. None of these claims has international recognition and the respective countries do not attempt to enforce their claims. Argentina has the most bases and personnel stationed on the peninsula.

Adelie Penguin, South Shetland Islands, Antarctic Peninsula

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