Satellite tracking of male rockhopper penguins Eudyptes chrysocome during the incubation period at the Falkland Islands


  • Klemens Pütz,

  • Jeremy G. Smith,

  • Rebecca J. Ingham,

  • Bernhard H. Lüthi

K. Pütz (correspondence), Antarctic Research Trust, P.O. Box 685, Stanley, Falkland Islands, Email: Jeremy G. Smith and Rebecca J. Ingham, Falklands Conservation, P.O. Box 26, Stanley, Falkland Islands. Bernhard H. Lüthi, Antarctic Research Trust (Switzerland), c/o Zoo Zürich, Zürichbergstr. 221, CH-8044 Zürich, Switzerland.


The foraging patterns of ten male rockhopper penguins Eudyptes chrysocome from the Falkland Islands were recorded during the incubation period by using satellite telemetry. Irrespective of study site and year, two different foraging areas could be identified. Three foraging trips were directed towards the slope of the Patagonian Shelf c. 140 km to the northeast of the breeding colony and these trips had a duration of 11–15 days. The seven other rockhopper penguins travelled c. 400 km towards the edge of the Falkland Islands’ waters; all these foraging trips followed an anti-clockwise direction and lasted 16–27 days. The calculated mean daily travelling speed, based on the time spent underwater and the distance covered between two positions, was significantly higher in birds travelling to the edge of the Falkland Islands’ waters compared with those foraging at the shelf slope (4.4±1.6 km/h vs. 3.4±2.0 km/h, respectively). The consistent foraging patterns exhibited during the long trips may be linked to the Falklands current, allowing the penguins to reach remote areas while reducing their energy expenditure. Potential interactions between commercial fisheries and hydrocarbon exploration are discussed.