In situ observation of a record-sized squid prey consumed by a Gentoo penguin

Abstract

Diet studies of marine predators provide insights into the functioning and structure of marine ecosystems. Such studies have been greatly enhanced in recent years with technology enabling direct observation of feeding behaviour in the marine environment. We here report on observations of an interesting predation event involving Gentoo penguins (Pygoscelis papua) at sub-Antarctic Marion Island. Through the deployment of an animal-borne miniaturised video data logger, we were able to document what is to our knowledge the largest recorded prey species consumed by a Gentoo penguin. A squid (probably Greater hooked squid, Onykia ingens) with an estimated mantle length of 240 mm was consumed whole after a period of competition over the prey item with another foraging Gentoo penguin.

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Acknowledgements

We thank South Africa’s Department of Environment Forestry and Fisheries for logistical support and allowing for field work on Marion Island and the South African National Research Foundation (NRF) for funding the project (Grant SNA93071) through its South African National Antarctic Program. Many thanks to Yves Cherel for help with the squid identification and for two reviewers who provided valuable input into the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Pierre A. Pistorius.

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We declare no conflict of interest regarding this study. Ethical approval for this study was granted through the Nelson Mandela University Ethics committee (Ref: A14-SCI-ZOO-012).

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Pistorius, P.A., Green, D.B., Seddon, P.J. et al. In situ observation of a record-sized squid prey consumed by a Gentoo penguin. Polar Biol 43, 279–283 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00300-020-02630-5

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Keywords

  • Pygoscelis
  • Diet
  • Biologging
  • Marion island
  • Seabirds
  • Sub-antarctic