, Volume 29, Issue 5, pp 424-438

Comparison of foraging strategies of incubating king penguins Aptenodytes patagonicus from Macquarie and Heard islands

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Abstract

The foraging strategies of king penguins from Heard and Macquarie islands were compared using satellite telemetry, time-depth recorders and diet samples. Trip durations were 16.8±3.6 days and 14.8±4.1 days at Macquarie and Heard islands, respectively. At Macquarie Island, total distances travelled were 1281±203 km compared to 1425±516 km at Heard Island. The total time the penguins spent at sea was 393±66 h at Macquarie Island and 369±108 h at Heard Island. The penguins from Macquarie Island performed more deep dives than those from Heard Island. King penguins from Macquarie Island travelled 1.5±0.2 km h−1 day−1 compared to 1.3±0.1 km h−1 day−1. At Macquarie Island, 19% of dives were upto 70–90 m depth compared to 35% at Heard Island. The main dietary prey species were the fish Krefftychthis anderssoni and the squid Moroteuthis ingens in both groups. The differences in the at-sea distribution and the foraging behaviour of the two groups of penguins were possibly related to differences in oceanography and bathymetric conditions around the two islands. Dietary differences may be due to interannual variability in prey availability since the two colonies were studied during incubation but in different years.