Thursday, September 1, 2011

Penguins gone fishing

From May to August this year, GPS loggers were deployed on breeding African penguins at Robben Island. With the help of many assistants, we have collected data from 30 foraging trips, each one from a different breeding adult African penguin. Thank you to all the assistants that helped hold penguins for Kate Robinson to deploy and retrieve the GPS logger devices.

Here is Kate with a penguin that has returned from sea with a GPS logger attached with tape to its back feathers. The logger is only on an adult penguin for one trip and then it is removed. Handling time is kept to a minimum to minimize stress for the birds. The loggers were programmed to record a GPS location every minute in air and to record temperature and pressure every second. The pressure data can tell us how deep the penguin dives are and can give an idea of how the penguin is swimming. Whether, for example, the penguin made a few shallow dives or many deep dives. The aim of this research is to work out where breeding African penguins from this colony are foraging for food, how far they go and how long their trips are.

This research is supported by the University of Cape Town Marine Research Institute (MA-RE) and the Leiden Conservation Foundation.

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