Friday, August 17, 2012

Breeding penguin foraging data collection continued into August

When news was gained that an acoustic fish survey was taking place early in August, there was a rush to return to the island and quickly equip breeding penguins with GPS-TD loggers. Luckily, the 6th EarthWatch team of the year was already there conducting breeding monitoring in the penguin colony so help was on hand. In early August, 3 foraging tracks were collected with both good GPS data and sensor data.

The 6th EarthWatch team of the year finished last week. The team had to leave the island early to avoid the large swells of 8 m and winds of 40 knots! During the stormy weather last weekend the ocean crashed, the wind howled and only a faint outline of Table Mountain could be distinguished from Robben Island through the mist and rain. Monday, the sun had come out and the seas had calmed down enough for the ferry to run again so the data was backed up and the remaining penguin researchers packed up and headed for the mainland.

Back at University of Cape Town, the tracks of the last deployments have been mapped. Here are the best tracks of where the breeding penguins went foraging in early August.

For a bit of perspective of where Robben Island and those tracks are, if we zoom out a bit here you can see those tracks and the Cape peninsula in the western Cape South Africa...
Some more perspective...

These tracks were collected thanks to the assistance of the EarthWatch team. Big thank you to Satomi, Arisa, Tammy, Haleigh, Pete, Barb, Mario, Sabelo, Sue, Leanne, and Emilee their help over the past week that made this data collection possible. Most of all, our deepest gratitude to the penguins for carrying a device on a trip out to sea and back!

Trips to Robben will continue to visit the nests in which one of the adult birds was equipped with logger devices for a foraging trip. The nests are checked to make sure the chicks are not abandoned.  Any chicks found in the colony underweight or in bad condition are sent to SANCCOB for rehabilitation. Overall, chicks appear to be be in better condition this year in comparison to last year. So far this August, a juvenile found at the harbour was sent to SANCCOB but no young chicks have needed to be sent.  Holding thumbs that the chicks at the Robben colony continue to be in good condition and fledge successfully.

Some healthy chicks and the partner of a loggerbird guarding them. 

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