Polar Biology

, Volume 30, Issue 2, pp 133–142 | Cite as

Extreme dives by free-ranging emperor penguins

  • Barbara WieneckeEmail author
  • Graham Robertson
  • Roger Kirkwood
  • Kieran Lawton
Original Paper


We examined the incidence of extreme diving in a 3-year overwintering study of emperor penguins Aptenodytes forsteri in East Antarctica. We defined extreme dives as very deep (> 400 m) and/or very long (> 12 min). Of 137364 dives recorded by 93 penguins 264 dives reached depths > 400 m and 48 lasted > 12 min. Most (65%) very long dives occurred in winter (May–August) while 83% of the very deep dives took place in spring (September–November). The two most extreme dives (564 m depth, 21.8 min duration) were separate dives and were performed by different individual penguins. Penguins diving extremely deeply may have done so as part of their foraging strategy whereas penguins diving for very long times may have been forced to do so by changes in the sea-ice conditions.


Continental Shelf Dive Depth Dive Duration Emperor Penguin Deep Dive 
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We gratefully acknowledge the help and support of the three overwintering teams at Mawson Station in 1988, 1993 and 1994. Without their help and support in the field this work would not have been possible. We thank two anonymous referees for their instructive and in depth comments that helped improve the manuscript. This study was part of the Australian Antarctic Division’s scientific program and was approved by the Australian Animal Ethics Committee (Department for the Environment and Heritage).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barbara Wienecke
    • 1
    Email author
  • Graham Robertson
    • 1
  • Roger Kirkwood
    • 2
  • Kieran Lawton
    • 1
  1. 1.Australian Antarctic DivisionChannel HighwayKingstonAustralia
  2. 2.Phillip Island Nature ParkCowesAustralia

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