150,000 penguins 'killed off' by giant iceberg in Antarctica

The colony of Adelie penguins fell from 160,000 to 10,000 because of an iceberg. Credit: Dean Lewins / AAP/PA Images

A group of Adelie penguins in Antarctica is facing extinction after a giant iceberg the size of Luxembourg became stuck near their colony at Cape Denison, which left them effectively landlocked.

Scientists at the University of New South Wales, writing in the journal Antarctic Science, found that over the last five years the penguin population dwindled from 160,000 to 10,000 - mainly because they now have to travel a lot further to find food.

The colony used to be ideally placed near to open water but the iceberg, which measures 1,120 square miles , has cut them off and now they have to make a 74 mile round-trip to eat their staple diet of Krill.

Scientists believe they could be wiped out in 20 years unless the iceberg, called B09B, breaks up.

Lead author of the study, Dr Kerry-Jayne Wilson, told the Sydney Morning Herald that regional changes caused by the iceberg had led to the penguins "catastrophic breeding failure".