Satellite to spill penguin secrets
empororpenguinchick.jpg
The study will reveal where emperor
penguin chicks go to feed and how deep
they dive.
Image: Robyn Mundy

With the help of satellite trackers, the foraging habits of emperor penguin chicks will be studied by Australian scientists this summer.

Researchers from the Australian Antarctic Division will fit tracking equipment to several chicks at the Amanda Bay Colony, near Davis station.

The trackers will provide real-time data on where the fledglings travel and how deep they dive.

Seabird ecologist, Dr Barbara Wienecke, said previous research has focused on the feeding behaviour of adult birds.

"We know the adults can travel up to 140 km a day and dive to a depth of more than 500 metres in search of fish," Dr Wienecke said.

"What we don't know is how these amazing skills are developed, so by tracking the fledglings we will be able to record from their very first dive through to when they become highly-skilled predators."

The study will help scientists get a clearer picture of the emperors' foraging areas and where there could potentially be an overlap with commercial fishing fleets.

"If the top few metres of a particular area are fished out this could have a huge impact on the juvenile emperor penguins which may not have the ability to dive deeper for their food," she said.

Dr Wienecke will spend three months in Antarctica undertaking the research.


Editor's Note: Original news release can be found here.