Diving pattern and performance in the macaroni penguin Eudptes chrysolophus

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Abstract

The pattern and characteristics of diving in two female macaroni penguins Eudyptes chrysolophus was studied, during the brooding period, using continuous-recording time-depth recorders, for a total of I8 days (15 consecutive days) during which the depth, duration and timing of 4876 dives were recorded. Diving in the first 11 days was exclusively diurnal, averaging 244 dives on trips lasting 12 hours. Near the end of the brooding period trips were longer and included diving at night. About half of all trips (except those involving continuous night-time diving) was spent in diving and dive rate averaged 14–25 dives per hour (42 per hour at night). The duration of day time dives varied between trips, and averaged 1.4–1.7 min, with a subsequent surface interval of 0.5–0.9 min. Dive duration was significantly directly related to depth, the latter accounting for 53% of the variation. The average depths of daytime dives were 20–35 m (maximum depth 11 5 m). Dives at night were shorter (average duration 0.9 min) and much shallower (maximum 11 m); depth accounted for only 6% of the variation in duration. Estimates of potential prey capture rates (3–5 krill per dive; one krill every 17–20 s) are made. Daily weight changes in chicks were directly related to number of dives, but not to foraging trip duration nor time spent diving. Of the other species at the same site which live by diving to catch krill, gentoo penguins forage exclusively diurnally, making longer. deeper dives; Antarctic fur seals, which dive to similar depths as macaroni penguins, do so mainly at night.

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