In Antarctica I study sea birds but the emphasis of my work is on emperor penguins at the moment. In this season, we are hoping to deploy some electronic tags that we haven’t deployed on emperor penguins yet. These, these tags are very interesting and exciting because they will tell us the location of penguins which is something that we have been doing in the past but these instruments will also give us some information about diving activity. We are planning to find ourselves some volunteers amongst the juveniles so that we can actually learn how they develop their diving activity on their very, very first time when they have to hunt for themselves. The tags work in the manner, we obviously have to attach them to the birds so we do that very carefully of course and they are satellite linked. That means that every time the tag makes contact with the satellite then we’ll be able to find out where the foraging areas are but also how the food demands do change with age. In terms of climate change, there are predictions that the frontal areas may be shifting south. If that were to happen, there is a potential that the foraging areas of the emperor penguins could be changed and, clearly, if something as massive as that happens it will have very, very far reaching implications. What fascinates me about emperor penguins is, it’s very hard to describe. They are such an unusual species. You wonder why anyone on Earth would want to do it as tough as these guys. Yes they are extremely well adapted to living in the ice but when you are down there with them, you see what a very, very fine line they’re actually walking and it is an extreme environment. There is no two ways about it so I really wonder A. What drives them? And how do they do it? How do they manage to be that successful?
Seabird ecologist, Dr Barbara Wienecke, has been studying penguins in Antarctica for more than 20 years.
Some of her research has focused on the foraging habitats of emperor penguin chicks.
In 2009, 10 chicks at the Amanda Bay Colony near Davis station, were fitted with satellite trackers to record how far they travel and how deep they dive.