MEPS 162:279-286 (1998)  -  doi:10.3354/meps162279

Humboldt penguins monitored via VHF telemetry

Boris M. Culik1,*, Guillermo Luna-Jorquera2, Hector Oyarzo3, Hector Correa3

1Institut für Meereskunde, Düsternbrooker Weg 20, D-24105 Kiel, Germany
2Universidad José Santos Ossa, Los Inmigrantes 733, Casilla 1344, Antofagasta, Chile
3Corporación Nacional Forestal, Dirección Región de Atacama, Atacama 898, Copiapó, Chile

VHF telemetry was used in November and December 1995 on 8 Humboldt penguins Spheniscus humboldti breeding at Pan de Azúcar Island (26°S, 70°W), Northern Chile, to determine at-sea behaviour of the birds. We obtained 2710 locations, 90% of which were within a radius of 20 km around the island. Mean travelling speed of the birds was 0.92 m s-1 and speed distribution showed peaks at 1.6 and 3 m s-1. Penguins travelling between foraging areas remained submerged for an average of 8.4 s between surfacings, whereas foraging dives lasted on average 61 s. The analysis of 79 complete foraging trips showed that tracks deviated from a straight course, and range (maximum distance from island) was only 0.37 times total horizontal distance swum. Birds did not forage synchronously or in the same foraging areas. However, foraging ranges were correlated between birds, indicating similar search strategies during periods of low food availability. The results obtained here via VHF telemetry agreed well with those of previous studies employing satellite transmitters and data loggers.

Behaviour · Diving · Foraging

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