The bird flu virus continues to spread in the South Atlantic. The Falkland Islands government confirmed there had been two confirmed cases among gentoo penguins on Sea Lion Island, a British overseas territory.
"Further results are still pending. However, there are many others who die under similar circumstances," said a spokeswoman. So far, more than 200 chicks and some adults have been found dead.
Sea Lion Island - a popular excursion destination - has been closed to visitors since January 19th, as has Steeple Jason Island in the northwest. The spokeswoman said test results from rockhopper penguins are currently expected from there. The government of the Falkland Islands has been preparing for a large-scale outbreak of the H5N1 virus together with the population for some time. “Everyone understands the importance of the wildlife on the islands and knows that it is our duty to do as much as possible to protect it,” it added.
As the British newspaper "Guardian" reported, there is also at least one suspected case of a king penguin on the island of South Georgia, about 1,500 kilometers from the Falkland Islands.
British scientists recently announced that they had discovered bird flu in mammals near Antarctica for the first time. The pathogen was found in elephant seals and fur seals.
The virus was first detected in the region in October 2023 in brown skua, a species of skua, on Bird Island near South Georgia. Experts warn that the spread of the virus is endangering Antarctica's unique ecosystem. There have also been several recent reports of bird flu in the Arctic, including a dead polar bear.