The Seabird Research Group have been busy attaching satellite trackers to female Adélie penguins at the southern and northern–most range of their breeding populations in the Prydz Bay region.
This research is to help understand where the penguins breeding in the extensive sea ice area of southern Prydz Bay forage, and to identify their traverse route across the ice to get to their foraging grounds.The data will also show whether their foraging location differs from the more northerly breeding populations.
The trip to the breeding colony in the south required flying across a field of intricately carved icebergs trapped in a vast expanse of sea ice, which was not only spectacular to witness but also revealed just how far the penguins had to waddle to get to their food!
The group have also been to the stunningly located Hop Island to retrieve trackers, which were deployed last year.
Hop Island is an incredibly important island because it provides habitat for a range of seabirds including Adélie penguins, snow petrels, Antarctic petrels, cape petrels, southern fulmars, skuas and Wilson’s storm petrels to breed.
The tiny little devices which we seek have recorded light levels every ten minutes since last summer and are attached to small bands around the birds’ ankles. The data will hopefully reveal for the first time where these Prydz Bay breeding birds forage during the cold harsh Antarctic winter months. We were very fortunate with perfect weather during these trips, which made the white icebergs glisten and sparkle in the sun creating a perfect backdrop to our worksite.