[ti:Huge Iceberg Floats toward South Georgia, Putting Wildlife at Risk]
[00:00.04]The world's largest iceberg is floating toward the island
[00:05.76]of South Georgia in the southern Atlantic Ocean.
[00:11.48]Scientists fear the iceberg could crash into the island
[00:16.96]and block major feeding areas
[00:20.48]for a large population of penguins and seals.
[00:26.72]The huge iceberg is named A68a.
[00:32.12]It broke away from Antarctica's Larsen C ice shelf in 2017.
[00:40.56]It has since has floated toward South Georgia,
[00:44.84]a British overseas territory.
[00:49.36]Satellite images show the iceberg has remained in one piece.
[00:56.44]It is estimated to be about 150 kilometers long and 48 kilometers wide.
[01:06.00]It is traveling at one kilometer an hour
[01:09.92]and is on a path to hit South Georgia in around 30 days.
[01:17.48]The British Antarctic Survey says it is concerned
[01:22.40]that if the iceberg hits the island, it could prevent the penguins
[01:27.68]and seals from reaching food supplies.
[01:32.88]Professor Geraint Tarling is an ecologist with the Antarctic Survey.
[01:40.36]He says right now is the time of year when seals and penguins
[01:46.36]spend a lot of time caring for their young.
[01:51.12]This means the distance that parents have to travel to find food is important.
[01:58.24]"That means they have to go a lot further,
[02:01.96]they have to go around the iceberg,
[02:05.32]or to actually go further to find sources of food," Tarling told VOA.
[02:13.76]"And that time is quite critical at this particular period of their life cycle."
[02:22.12]Ecologists say an iceberg crash
[02:25.88]would also disturb materials settled on the seabed,
[02:31.36]possibly polluting the surrounding seas.
[02:36.56]As the iceberg melts, it would also release
[02:40.32]large amounts of fresh water into the ocean.
[02:44.80]This could affect krill populations
[02:48.28]that are a major source of food for the island's wildlife.
[02:54.60]Tarling says the iceberg could remain for 10 years
[02:59.72]and change the area's whole ecosystem.
[03:05.20]"These are globally significant populations of these species.
[03:10.80]If these species fail in this particular area,
[03:15.68]then the numbers globally are going to go down quite dramatically," he said.
[03:23.56]The breaking off of icebergs from Antarctica is a natural process.
[03:30.28]But the process is changing with climate change.
[03:36.32]"What we're seeing with models and some observations now
[03:41.36]is the rate at which this is happening is increasing.
[03:46.16]And so, this might become more of a usual thing into the future," Tarling said.
[03:55.00]The iceberg also could damage South Georgia's valuable fishing industry.
[04:01.56]Fishers pay for the rights to catch Patagonian toothfish,
[04:07.48]icefish and krill in waters off the island.
[04:13.44]Officials are hoping that changing weather patterns
[04:17.56]could direct the iceberg out into the open ocean,
[04:22.48]where it would, in time, break up and melt.
[04:28.16]I'm Bryan Lynn. 更多听力请访问51VOA.COM