Foraging behaviour of the little penguin, Eudyptula minor: initial results and assessment of instrument effect

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Abstract

We investigated the foraging behaviour of little penguins using a new archival electronic activity recorder which simultaneously measures speed and depth against time. We present the first integrated data of foraging behaviour of two little penguins, from which we were able to distinguish between several types of travelling and foraging behaviours. The little penguins foraged mainly within 15 m of the surface and travelled at speeds between 8 and 9 km h-1. Using attachments ranging between 1.4 and 11.8% penguin cross-sectional area (0.1 and 6% penguin mass), and isotopic water, we also assessed the effects of carrying devices while foraging. Both water influx and metabolic rates were significantly lower in penguins carrying devices, compared to penguins foraging without devices attached. Even the relatively small attachments resulted in a decreased foraging efficiency and we suggest that there is no simple or fixed relationship between size of device and the effect on the bearer.

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