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France's subantarctic Île aux Cochons was once home to half a million breeding pairs of king penguins. Now, only 60,000 remain. Liam Quinn / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

The world's largest colony of king penguins declined nearly 90 percent in the last three decades, researchers announced Monday.

The colony inhabits France's subantarctic Île aux Cochons or Pig Island. Observations from the 1980s showed that it was once home to 2 million king penguins, making it the planet's largest colony of the species, and also the second largest colony of all penguins.

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Penguin colony, St. Andrews Bay, South Georgia. size4riggerboots / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

Following a £10 million ($13.5 million) eradication scheme and nearly a decade of work, South Georgia was officially declared rodent-free on Tuesday, the first time since humans arrived on the island more than 200 years ago.

The British territory is one of the world's last great wildlife areas. There you'll find 98 percent of the world's Antarctic fur seals, half the world's elephant seals and four species of penguins—including King Penguins with around 450,000 breeding pairs. The birdlife includes albatrosses, prions, skua, terns, sheathbills and petrels.

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King penguins on South Georgia. Mary Bomford / Flickr

By Daisy Dunne

The arduous journey that king penguins must make in order to hunt fish to bring back to their young could become even longer as the climate warms, research suggests.

The study finds that future ocean warming in Antarctica could drive the penguins' primary hunting grounds further poleward—away from their favored breeding spots.

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A warming climate and expanding industrial fishing threaten the Antarctic Ocean and its iconic creatures such as penguins. Antarctica Bound / Flickr

Greenpeace's ship Arctic Sunrise is on its way to Antarctica, where the crew on board will be the first humans ever to visit the seafloor in the Weddell Sea.

The three-month expedition will aim to further the case for a massive ocean sanctuary.

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The first thing you notice about Marty is how much effort is takes her to swim. With a paralyzed left flipper, each breath seems a heroic effort—yet she perseveres. Marty is one of 15 (mostly) little blue penguins residing at the International Antarctic Centre in Christchurch, New Zealand. As her feeders kindly but firmly point out, this part of the International Antarctic Centre is not a zoo, but rather a "second chance facility" for penguins.

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The yellow-eyed penguin is found only in New Zealand. travelwayoflife / Flickr

Nearly half the breeding population of endangered yellow-eyed penguins on the island sanctuary of Whenua Hou (Codfish Island) in New Zealand have vanished, according to a recent survey.

The animals—also known as "hoiho" in Māori—are known as the world's rarest penguins and are only found in New Zealand.

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