Foraging movements of Magellanic Penguins Spheniscus magellanicus in the Beagle Channel, Argentina, related to tide and tidal currents
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- Raya Rey, A., Bost, CA., Schiavini, A. et al. J Ornithol (2010) 151: 933. doi:10.1007/s10336-010-0531-y
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This study investigates the movements of Magellanic Penguins Spheniscus magellanicus breeding on Isla Martillo during the early chick-rearing period. Foraging paths were reconstructed using GPS loggers that registered the penguins′ geographic position, water temperature and depth at regular intervals. The relationship between penguins′ movements and search strategies, tide and tidal currents were assessed. Mean trip duration was on average 14.7 ± 6.9 h (33% overnight), and the maximum distance reached was 24 ± 10 km. All penguins studied foraged to the east of the colony. We identified three phases based on the sinuosity and speed of the trajectory: transit, central and return. Foraging effort was higher during the central phase, followed by the transit phase, and lower in the return phase. Foraging success, measured as the percentage of time at the bottom during each phase, was also highest during the central phase. In all birds studied, the central phase of the foraging trip took place during ebb tide, and birds travelled to the foraging areas with flow tide running in the same direction of displacement. Our study suggests that penguins take advantage of tidal currents to facilitate their movements to and from the main foraging area, thereby reducing the energy expended. Moreover, we suggest that piscivorous diving birds may enhance their catch rate during ebb tide when fish are more concentrated near the channel bed.