Sunday, June 24, 2012

African penguins at sea

The last three weeks have seen a frenzy of penguin field work research.  The fourth EarthWatch team of the year succeeded in completing all their penguin nest monitoring and chick measurement tasks despite several days of rain during their time on the island.  They also conducted many beach clean ups, clearing the coast of netting and fishing line that can ensnare and harm penguins. An impressive amount of work got done thanks to the hardworking volunteers: Dolly, Bob, Kathy and Brian, as well as the team's leaders and assistants.

Juvenile penguin foraging research got underway with a visit to Robben Island from Dr. Richard Sherley. Three large chicks were selected that were in good condition and just about to go to leave the colony to go to sea. Their chick down had all been replaced by blue juvenile plumage. These three juveniles were equipped with satellite transmitters by Dr. Sherley on June 11 and were released the next day at dawn by the team. You can check out the amazing full story and see where the juvenile penguins have swam to since their release on PenguinWatch!

Photo by Leanne Tol

Only a handful of adult penguins with small chicks and suitable nests for logger deployments have been available lately on Robben so we only managed to get foraging tracks from 3 more penguins with GPS-TD logger devices.

Yesterday, we got a logger back from this penguin. This photo was taken of the bird back on its nest on top of its two small chicks before the logger device was retrieved.

Here is the foraging trip this penguin, it went about 15 km west of the island and a round trip distance of approximately 35 km in all. This is the first time one of the penguins with a logger has swam west of the island this year.

The last two deployments before the penguins had gone north east of the island.

At another nest yesterday, another breeding adult penguin was equipped with GPS-TD logger. When the nest was checked today the bird with the logger was still there. Hopefully its partner will return from the sea soon to feed and brood the chicks while the bird with the logger goes to sea.

Swim well penguins!

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