Video Footage Shows Penguins as Efficient Hunters

First Posted: Jan 22, 2013 06:22 AM EST

Two Japanese scientists state that Adelie penguins are unbelievably efficient hunters, after they have successfully captured footage of the foraging activity of the penguins that reside in the Lutzow-Holm Bay, Antarctica.

Scientists Yuuki Watanabe and Akinori Takahashi from the National Institute of Polar Research in Tokyo filmed the feeding behavior of these birds with the help of video cameras and accelometers that were attached to the head and back of the penguins. Through this, the scientists noted the intimate details of their feeding habit.

The 14 Adelie penguins that were strapped with cameras plunged deep into the waters off the coast of Antarctica to capture their prey and at times adapted a very stealthy approach. Nearly 96 percent of their prey was the tiny crustaceans called krill and fish known as bald notothens.

The scientists report that not much is known about the foraging behavior of the marine animals. The 85-minute videos captured from each animal between December 2010 and early February 2011 will help them determine the amount of energy penguins spend in hunting their prey.

From the footage received, they learnt that the penguins make shallow dives of less than 30 meters.  

The penguin's dives for fish produced a steady supply of food; while dives for krill were more unreliable. The cameras revealed that they consumed nearly 244 krill and 33 Arctic fish, reports Live Science.

"This difference indicates that the success of penguins feeding on krill during a foraging trip depends on a small number of very successful dives, rather than a number of typical dives," the author was quoted as saying in Live Science.

"We recorded both movies and indirect signals, successfully validating the indirect signals using video footage," Dr. Watanabe was quoted as saying in BBC. "We assumed that penguins move their heads relative to their body when they capture prey; this was confirmed by the footage."

The scientists witnessed an extraordinary activity in two cases. They noticed that penguins followed a Pagothenia Borchgrvinikui till the bottom of the sea ice and attacked it there, indicating that the ice surface would have been used as a barrier.

This foraging activity will help to study the ecology of the birds in the wild.

The study details were published Jan. 21, 2013, in the Journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

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