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Follow the Penguins' Migration!

During the week of August 20, 2007, Professor Boersma and her student, Elizabeth Skewgar, selected six adult male penguins from a group of oiled penguins at two coastal towns in Northern Argentina--San Clemente del Tuy˙ and Mar del Plata--to carry satellite transmitters during their southern migration back to their breeding colonies. They put the transmitters on healthy, robust birds in good body condition that were likely to be eager to get back to their colony to begin breeding. The point is to follow their ocean route and determine if they are going south along a well-defined route.

Through late October the birds' movements will be tracked by the Argos satellite system, operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the French space agency. The satellites will pass overhead providing the penguins' locations. Every 36 hours we receive new data which we are charting on a tracking map so you can watch, with us, the routes the penguins are using to return to their breeding colonies.

Bookmark this page so you can check back to see the latest news, and follow along through October as we watch the penguins travel south.

OCTOBER 16th—See the journeys of each individual penguin.

UPDATE--OCTOBER 16th. (Click on the map to see the penguins' routes close-up.)

The birds are showing two different behaviors. Ruoppolo, Jolt, and Skewgar seem to be heading south in a fairly direct manner, likely heading to breeding colonies in the south. Their paths are relatively straight and they have traveled hundreds of kilometers. They are not going as fast as they can travel when they are in a hurry (up to 170km per day) but they are moving in a constant southerly direction. Contrast these paths with those of Chubut, Vivian, and Conway who have headed out to sea and seem to be foraging. These three penguins are remaining on their wintering grounds. All six penguins were adults when we tagged them, but the penguins that are not traveling south are likely younger, probably non-breeders, and may not be in such a hurry to get back to the breeding colonies. We expect eventually these three penguins will also head south but it may not be until December. All the penguins are within the exclusive economic zones (EEZ) of the coastal countries, and could be affected by fisheries or oil pollution.

Second Release---In Mar del Plata, the Fundaciˇn Aquarium of the Mar del Plata Aquarium released 11 rehabilitated birds that had recovered from oiling. Three of them carried Penguin Project satellite tags which are visible in the photo. Like the previous group the penguins stayed close together in a tight clump when they swam out to sea, until we could no longer see them. We would like to thank the Fundaciˇn Aquarium team, and particularly Karen Griot, for their collaboration.

Look closely at the photo below at the penguins entering the water and you can see the satellite transmitter antenna on one of the tagged penguins.

The penguins leave San Clemente del Tuy˙ for the south. See the antennas from the satellite tags on two of the swimming penguins.

Below is a picture of hundreds of Magellanic penguins on the beach at their breeding colony in Punta Tombo which is in a reserve in the Province of Chubut. This is the largest Magellanic penguin colony in the world and has been studied for 24 years with funding from the Wildlife Conservation Society and other supporters*, and the cooperation and assistance of the Chubut Office of Tourism and the Estancia La Perla.
In this photograph, you can see a Magellanic penguin with three chicks. The adult penguin is wearing a satellite tag (look for the antenna sticking up).The transmitter is attached with epoxy and special tape. The tags are about the size of many cell phones and weigh less than 3.5 ounces.
Don't forget to bookmark this page so you can easily return to see the latest news!
*Current supporters include the Chase Foundation, the Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund, the Exxon-Mobil Education Foundation, the Namaste Foundation, the Offield Foundation, the Thorne Foundation, the Wadsworth Endowed Chair in Conservation Science, and individual contributors to Friends of the Penguins.
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