Humboldt penguins outmanoeuvring El Niño.

Culik, Boris M., Hennicke, J and Martin, Thomas (2000) Humboldt penguins outmanoeuvring El Niño. Open Access Journal of Experimental Biology, 203 (15). pp. 2311-2322.

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We satellite-tracked five Humboldt penguins during the strong 1997/98 El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) from their breeding island Pan de Azúcar (26 degrees 09'S, 70 degrees 40'W) in Northern Chile and related their activities at sea to satellite-derived information on sea surface temperature (SST), sea surface temperature anomaly (SSTA), wind direction and speed, chlorophyll a concentrations and statistical data on fishery landings. We found that Humboldt penguins migrated by up to 895 km as marine productivity decreased. The total daily dive duration was highly correlated with SSTA, ranging from 3.1 to 12.5 h when the water was at its warmest (+4 degrees C). Birds travelled between 2 and 116 km every day, travelling further when SSTA was highest. Diving depths (maximum 54 m), however, were not increased with respect to previous years. Two penguins migrated south and, independently of each other, located an area of high chlorophyll a concentration 150 km off the coast. Humboldt penguins seem to use day length, temperature gradients, wind direction and olfaction to adapt to changing environmental conditions and to find suitable feeding grounds. This makes Humboldt penguins biological in situ detectors of highly productive marine areas, with a potential use in the verification of trends detected by remote sensors on board satellites.

Document Type: Article
Keywords: Humboldt penguin, Spheniscus humboldti, El Niño, Humboldt current, wind speed, day length, chlorophyll a, satellite telemetry, foraging, migration, sea surface temperature, dive
Research affiliation: OceanRep > Leibniz-Institut für Meereswissenschaften
OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB1 Ocean Circulation and Climate Dynamics > FB1-ME Maritime Meteorology
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: No
Publisher: The Company of Biologists
Date Deposited: 18 Feb 2008 17:24
Last Modified: 23 Sep 2019 18:56

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