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Press Release - Penguin camera reveals group behaviour

Issue date: 26 Mar 2004
Number: 03/2004

25 March 2004 PR No. 3/04 Scientists from British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and the National Institute of Polar Research, Tokyo, Japan have recorded the first observations of penguin behaviour underwater. A miniature digital still camera was attached to the backs of five chinstrap penguins (Pygoscelis antarctica) and five Adelie penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae) breeding at colonies on Signy Island, Antarctica. Results are published in this month?s issue of the Royal Society journal Biology Letters. The amazing pictures reveal that penguins forage in groups while at sea collecting food for their chicks. The camera, developed by Prof Y Naito, K Sato and A Takahashi from the National Institute for Polar Research in Tokyo, is removed when the penguin returns to its chick, usually after 1 to 3 days. It is small and though it slightly changes the hydrodynamic shape of the bird, it has only minimal impact. Dr Phil Trathan of BAS says ?The images are really exciting. Genuine underwater behaviour in penguins is almost impossible to record because animals can act unnaturally when a diver is nearby ? who, in any case, wouldn?t be able to keep up with a penguin swimming at an average speed of over 8 km an hour.? ENDS: Issued by: BAS Press Office. Contact: Linda Capper, 01223 221448 or Athena Dinar, 01223 221414. For more information about this research contact Dr Phil Trathan, 01223 221602. Notes for editors: The paper ?Penguin-mounted cameras glimpse underwater group behaviour? by Dr A Takahashi, Dr K Sato, Dr Y Naito, Dr MJ Dunn, Dr PN Trathan and Professor J P Croxall is published in Proceedings of the Royal Society, London. B (Suppl). March 2004 Picture editors: for still images from the digital camera contact the BAS Press Office. Video footage of penguins on land and diving into the sea is also available.