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Penguins as oceanographers unravel hidden mechanisms of marine productivity

Authors

  • Jean-Benoît Charrassin,

    Corresponding author
    1. Laboratoire d'Océanographie Physique, Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, 43 rue Cuvier, 75231 Paris Cedex 05, France,
    2. Centre d'Ecologie et Physiologie Energétiques, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, 3 rue Becquerel, F-67087 Strasbourg Cedex, France
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  • Young-Hyang Park,

    1. Laboratoire d'Océanographie Physique, Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, 43 rue Cuvier, 75231 Paris Cedex 05, France,
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  • Yvon Le Maho,

    1. Centre d'Ecologie et Physiologie Energétiques, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, 3 rue Becquerel, F-67087 Strasbourg Cedex, France
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  • Charles-André Bost

    1. Centre d'Ecologie et Physiologie Energétiques, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, 3 rue Becquerel, F-67087 Strasbourg Cedex, France
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  • Editor, M. E. Hochberg

Jean-Benoît Charrassin E-mail: jbc@mnhn.fr

ABSTRACT

A recent concept for investigating marine ecosystems is to employ diving predators as cost-effective, autonomous samplers of environmental parameters (such as sea-temperature). Using king penguins during their foraging trips at sea, we obtained an unprecedented high resolution temperature map at depth off the Kerguelen Islands, Southern Ocean, a poorly sampled but productive area. We found clear evidence of a previously unknown subsurface tongue of cold water, flowing along the eastern shelf break. These new results provide a better understanding of regional water circulation and help explain the high primary productivity above the Kerguelen Plateau.

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