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Proc Biol Sci. 2007 Oct 7;274(1624):2385-91.

Movements of foraging king penguins through marine mesoscale eddies.

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Centre d'Etudes Biologiques de Chizé, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, 79360, Villiers en Bois, France.


Despite increasing evidence that marine predators associate with mesoscale eddies, how these marine features influence foraging movements is still unclear. This study investigates the relationship of at-sea movements of king penguins to mesoscale eddies using oceanographic remote sensing and movement data from 43 individual trips over 4 years. Simultaneous satellite measurements provided information on gradients of sea surface temperature and currents associated with eddies determined from altimetry. Penguins tended to swim rapidly with currents as they travelled towards foraging zones. Swimming speed indicative of foraging occurred within mesoscale fronts and strong currents associated with eddies at the Polar Front. These results demonstrate the importance of mesoscale eddies in directing foraging efforts to allow predators to rapidly get to rich areas where high concentrations of prey are likely to be encountered. When returning to the colony to relieve the incubating partner or to feed the chick, the birds followed a direct and rapid path, seemingly ignoring currents.

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