Penguin research given a leg up

The Data-logging leg band attached to a Gentoo penguin
The Data-logging leg band attached to a Gentoo penguin
Leg band being attached to a Gentoo penguin

Australian Antarctic Division Sea Bird Ecologist Dr Barbara Wienecke is working with Melbourne Aquarium’s staff and colony of Gentoo penguins, to trial a data-logging leg band which will help the long-term monitoring of their Adélie cousins in Antarctica.

Melbourne Aquarium Gentoo penguins Roxy, Crumpet, Mushroom, Aroha, Herbie, Woody and Indi will be fitted with the 1.5g leg bands, with Aquarium keepers watching on to make sure they do not interfere with the penguins’ daily activities. 

“It is a great advantage to have an opportunity to test a new method before going into the field where this kind of monitoring is not possible,” said Dr Wienecke.

The computer contained in the leg band has the ability to record where the birds travel, their temperature and how fast they swim.

“With advances in technology it is now possible to attach data loggers to the birds which collect information about individual birds, such as location and their activity patterns but also physical variables, such as light and temperature,” said Dr Wienecke.

“By putting all this information together we are gaining valuable insights into the areas important to seabirds at the various stages of their annual cycle, as well as variations in their environment.”

The one-month trial will be conducted at Melbourne Aquarium throughout October.