Posted on 01/11/2012 by Research team

Penguins spend 80 per cent of their lives at sea, relying only on marine food. Understanding penguins’ life at sea is critical to for ecosystem-level conservation plans and for protecting the penguins' marine habitats. To do that, we need some good technology and very small gadgets!!

This year we are testing a new tiny depth recorder logger developed by our French colleagues together with the French Nuclear Institute. This is the first time this logger has been tested in the field.

TDR logger

New tiny logger on bottom next to the previous, much larger model!

We already have some (very exciting!!) results showing the new loggers are doing what they are supposed to: collecting diving data. The data below are from a penguin incubating eggs when it made two trips of five and seven days. The spikes are diving data and water temperature is recorded on the bottom line (not to scale). Penguins dive during the day and not at night because they rely on their eyesight to see fish. After five days at sea, this penguin came back at night (see jump in temperature – colony temperature) and returned to sea the next day for fishing, leaving its partner incubating eggs for a further seven days.

TDR data

Scales not correct.

Right now (the end of October) we started placing loggers on penguins that are feeding old chicks at the Penguin Parade. Later on, the research team will be deploying loggers at other locations too. Working at research this breeding season is master student Françoise Amélineau as part of our long term collaboration with French scientists on our foraging ecology studies.

Stay tuned for data logger updates!