Marine Biology

, 163:108 | Cite as

On the significance of Antarctic jellyfish as food for Adélie penguins, as revealed by video loggers

  • Jean-Baptiste ThiebotEmail author
  • Kentaro Ito
  • Thierry Raclot
  • Timothée Poupart
  • Akiko Kato
  • Yan Ropert-Coudert
  • Akinori Takahashi


Concern of pelagic gelatinous organisms taking over perturbed marine ecosystems has led to a recent increase in research into this group. However, the significance of this group as prey remains challenging to assess, and hence, gelatinous consumers are often depicted incorrectly as dead ends of pelagic food webs. In the Southern Ocean, where a shift in trophic webs may favour gelatinous animals, we video-monitored prey intake of a key predator. Twenty-eight chick-rearing Adélie penguins Pygoscelis adeliae from Dumont d’Urville station (66°40′S, 140°01′E) were instrumented with miniaturized video loggers in 2014–2015. Among other items (krill, fish), 101 gelatinous organisms (n = 79 jellyfish, 6 salps and 16 unidentified) were observed on 13 of 21 exploitable video footages (total: 59 h). Importantly, 65.3 % of gelatinous organisms were attacked, but among them salps were not attacked. Attacks on jellyfish were significantly associated with the visible presence of the jellyfish’s gonad. Jellyfish were encountered at an average depth of 26.2 ± 10.4 m, significantly shallower than krill. Attacks occurred mostly during bottom, but also descent or ascent dive phases. Concomitant GPS location for four birds revealed that attacks on jellyfish occurred above the shelf, 35 km north from the colony, where sea ice concentration reached 88 %. These results indicate that Adélie penguins occasionally feed on jellyfish, even though other prey types are also available. Refining our perception of scyphozoans’ niche may thus help anticipate the functional response of the food webs to the extensive changes witnessed in the Antarctic environment.


Dive Bout Ascent Phase Jellyfish Species Ascent Dive Video Logger 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The Institut Paul-Émile Victor (program #1091), the Zone Atelier Antarctique (CNRS), the WWF-UK and the Open Partnership Joint Project of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) Bilateral Joint Research Project provided logistic and financial support. JB Thiebot benefited from financial support by JSPS KAKENHI Grant-in-Aid #26840153. The authors warmly thank C Péron (Australian Antarctic Division) for providing assistance with sea ice data, N Sato (SOKENDAI) for advices on analyses, DJ Lindsay (Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology) for identification and knowledge of gelatinous organisms, and two reviewers for their constructive comments on the manuscript.

Supplementary material

Video clip showing examples of attack/non attack cases on jellyfish, by Adélie penguins instrumented at Pétrels Island, Adélie Land. (MP4 17945 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jean-Baptiste Thiebot
    • 1
    Email author
  • Kentaro Ito
    • 2
  • Thierry Raclot
    • 3
  • Timothée Poupart
    • 3
  • Akiko Kato
    • 3
    • 4
  • Yan Ropert-Coudert
    • 4
  • Akinori Takahashi
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.National Institute of Polar ResearchTachikawaJapan
  2. 2.Department of Polar ScienceSOKENDAI (The Graduate University for Advanced Studies)TokyoJapan
  3. 3.Département Écologie, Physiologie et Éthologie, Institut Pluridisciplinaire Hubert Curien, CNRS UMR7178Université de StrasbourgStrasbourgFrance
  4. 4.Station d’Écologie de Chizé-La Rochelle, CNRS UMR 7372Centre d’Études Biologiques de ChizéVilliers-en-BoisFrance

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