Satellite tracking of the winter migration of Magellanic Penguins Spheniscus magellanicus breeding in the Falkland Islands

Authors


*Corresponding author at: Antarctic Research Trust E-mail: pentag@horizon.co.fk

Abstract

Magellanic penguin populations in the Falkland Islands may have decreased over the past decade. The post-breeding migration may be the period in which the birds are most vulnerable. To investigate this we equipped ten Magellanic Penguins after their moult at Seal Bay (51d̀38'S, 58d̀03'W), East Falkland, with satellite transmitters. The movements of the penguins were tracked for between 15 and 99 days until transmission ceased. All birds initially migrated to the northwest. However, four birds entered Argentinean coastal waters, then headed northeast following the coastline, The other penguins remained offshore, but also changed to a northeasterly course. Two birds migrated beyond 36d̀S with a maximum distance to the colony of more than 1800 km, while the minimum distance travelled was up to 2700 km. Initially, the birds migrated quickly but their speed was reduced and became more variable as time progressed. A high concentration of positional fixes, associated with low travelling speeds, indicated at least four different areas where birds were assumed to forage efficiently. The relevance of these areas is discussed with respect to the diet of Magellanic Penguins and possible interactions with human activities.

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