She began looking through satellite images and data from other colonies to see if the species was actually traveling around. New satellite-imagery technology makes it easy for researchers to track the penguins because of their easy-to-spot poop stains on the Antarctic ice and snow.
"They are the only species living on the very white ice and they leave a very brown stain - it's pretty obvious," LaRue said.
LaRue and a team of researchers found evidence that part of the Pointe Géologie colony, made famous by the "March of the Penguins" documentary, may have moved to new breeding grounds.
In the 1970s, the ocean temperature around Antarctica climbed, and simultaneously, the colony size reduced by half. At the time, researchers thought the warming temperatures and receding ice had killed off the penguins. But, the new study shows that part of the colony might have moved to different breeding grounds.
Researchers originally thought the next closest colony was more than 930 miles (1,500 km) away. But LaRue and the team found several other colonies within the 930-mile-radius that the members of the Pointe Géologie group could have easily reached.