Winter migration of magellanic penguins (Spheniscus magellanicus) from the southernmost distributional range
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- Pütz, K., Schiavini, A., Rey, A.R. et al. Mar Biol (2007) 152: 1227. doi:10.1007/s00227-007-0770-5
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A total of 22 magellanic penguins (Spheniscus magellanicus) from Isla Martillo in the Beagle Channel, Argentina, were successfully satellite tracked in 2004 (n = 7), 2005 (n = 7) and 2006 (n = 8) to monitor their winter migration after moult. Only one magellanic penguin migrated northwards into the Pacific Ocean, whereas all others remained in the Atlantic Ocean. In general, these birds left the island in an easterly direction, rounded Cabo San Diego, the southeasterly tip of South America, and continued northwards occupying inshore waters mostly less than 50 km from the coast, only occasionally venturing further offshore. By the end of the transmission period, birds were still travelling northwards and the most northerly positions were obtained from birds located in the area of Peninsula Valdés, Argentina, at a latitude of around 42°S, some 1,500 km from their breeding site on Isla Martillo. The mean maximum distance to the breeding site was, however, only 624 ± 460 km. The mean minimum distance covered during the study period was 1,440 ± 685 km, which corresponded to a mean distance of 23.2 ± 6.6 km covered per day. The northbound migration of the penguins could be separated into periods of rapid movement, interspersed with periods during which the birds remained for some time in particular coastal regions. Areas with a high density of daily penguin positions were observed in three distinct areas: at the northeastern coast of Tierra del Fuego, at the southern entrance of Golfo San Jorge and to the northeast of the Peninsula Valdez. The observed migration pattern is presumably driven by the formation and subsequent dispersal of areas of enhanced productivity as the season progressed. Our findings also suggest that magellanic penguins are increasingly threatened by human activities in coastal areas as penguins migrate northwards.