Journal of Ornithology

, Volume 151, Issue 4, pp 933–943 | Cite as

Foraging movements of Magellanic Penguins Spheniscus magellanicus in the Beagle Channel, Argentina, related to tide and tidal currents

  • Andrea Raya ReyEmail author
  • Charles-André Bost
  • Adrián Schiavini
  • Klemens Pütz
Original Article


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.


Spheniscus magellanicus Foraging movements Search strategy Tide and tidal currents 



This research was made possible through the support of the Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET) and the financial support to the Antarctic Research Trust by the Vontobel-Stiftung, Switzerland, Proyecto Prevención Prevención de la contaminación costera y Gestión de la biodiversidad Marina, donación FMAN/BIRF Nº28.385, and the Wildlife Conservation Society. Special thanks to Dr. Carlos Mazio from the Servicio de Hidrografía Naval, Argentina, who provided the tide and tidal current data. Also, thanks are due to Lesley Baxter for language editing. We would like to thank Dr Frere and one anonymous referee for their comments that improved the manuscript. This study was approved by the National Council of Scientific Research and the Natural Resources Agency of the province of Tierra del Fuego, and complied with the legal requirements in Argentina.


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Copyright information

© Dt. Ornithologen-Gesellschaft e.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrea Raya Rey
    • 1
    Email author
  • Charles-André Bost
    • 2
  • Adrián Schiavini
    • 1
    • 3
  • Klemens Pütz
    • 4
  1. 1.Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas, CADICUshuaiaArgentina
  2. 2.Centre d’Études Biologiques de Chizé, Centre National de la Recherche ScientifiqueVilliers en BoisFrance
  3. 3.Wildlife Conservation SocietyBronxUSA
  4. 4.Antarctic Research TrustStanleyFalkland Islands

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