Sunday 20 April 2014

Penguin-cam reveals feeding spree

A penguin's-eye view showed the creatures capturing shrimp-like krill at the rate of up to two a second

Their comedy walk is sure to raise a smile but video cameras strapped to the backs of penguins reveal a very different impression.

While they may make slow, shuffling process on land, the flipper-winged birds are lightning fast and agile in the water.

The penguin's-eye view showed the creatures capturing shrimp-like krill at the rate of up to two a second. Rapid, darting head movements were used to snatch krill and small fish out of the water.

Over a filming period of 78 to 89 minutes, the penguins caught 244 krill and 33 fish.

Scientists studied 15 Adelie penguins in Lutzow-Holm Bay, Antarctica, which were fitted with accelerometers and miniature video cameras.

Penguins were often seen attacking krill head-on. Three birds had a field day after encountering a dense swarm of the crustaceans and devouring as many as two a second.

Other shots showed penguins searching underneath sea ice for Pagothenia fish, and launching attacks from below. The fish were captured with a stretch of the neck.

"Escape behaviour of the fish was not evident in most cases, suggesting an excellent stealth approach by penguins," the Japanese scientists, led by Dr Yuuki Watanabe, from the National Institute of Polar Research in Tokyo, wrote in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Two birds were also filmed searching along the sea bed, one capturing at least four fish.

One penguin discovered a school of fish and ate 14 in just 20 seconds.

Press Association

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