Penguins on the move

11 February 2003

Visitors to the Australian Antarctic Division's (AAD) website are now able to follow the tracks of Adélie penguins as they forage for their food.

The penguins have been tracked by satellite and their movements animated on a short film that is now accessible on the AAD's website.

Voyage leader Dr Steve Nicol aboard Aurora Australis said that marine biologists had been tracking the penguins from a long-running monitoring program on Béchervaise Island, off the coast from Australia's Mawson station.

The penguins' movements are being monitored in relation to the distribution and abundance of their main food source, Antarctic krill, to study the link between this and the foraging of penguins.

Dr Sharman Stone, Parliamentary Secretary responsible for the Antarctic, said that correctly mapping krill was important to several Antarctic species such as whales, seals and sea birds as well as penguins.

"Accurately establishing the distribution and abundance of krill is important both for putting in place sustainable harvest limits for any krill fisheries and for protecting animals that feed on the krill.

"There is real potential for fishing fleets to over-harvest the krill, which comes together in dense swarms. We must ensure that harvests are sustainable so that the food source of a whole range of sea and land-based wildlife is not destroyed," Dr Stone said.