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New research by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and colleagues reveals the previously unknown behaviors of juvenile Emperor penguins in their critical early months when they leave their birth colony and first learn how to swim, dive, and find food. The paper, published Jan. 17, 2019, in the journal Marine Ecology Progress Series, also highlights the unique connection between juvenile diving behaviors and a layer of the ocean, known as the thermocline, where warmer surface waters meet cooler deep waters below and where their prey likely gather in groups.
"This study provides insights into an important, but poorly understood, part of their life cycle, which is essential to being able to better predict the species' response to future climate change," says Sara Labrousse, a postdoctoral investigator at WHOI and lead author of the paper.
Researchers - Centre - D'Etudes - Biologiques - Chize
Researchers from Centre d'Etudes Biologiques de Chize? in France tagged 15 juvenile penguins before the animals left their colony in Terre Adélie during 2013 and 2014 fieldwork in December, when the weather usually starts to warm and the ice begins to break up, creating open waters near the nesting site.
The researchers attached tags to the lower backs of healthy chicks that had the best chances of survival. The tags recorded the penguins' movements and transmitted diving and location data via satellite. More than 62,000 dives were recorded.
Tags - Juvenile - Water - Areas - Waters
The tags revealed that the juvenile penguins initially moved far north to reach open water areas and warmer waters.
"This is when they are essentially learning how to swim," says Labrousse. "That's not something that their parents teach them. When they first go in the water, they are very awkward and unsure of themselves. They are not the fast and graceful swimmers their parents are."
Tags - Juvenile - Emperor - South
The tags showed that once the juvenile Emperor penguins became more experienced at diving, they headed south, entered...
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