Crary bank: a deep foraging habitat for emperor penguins in the western Ross Sea

Abstract

Although most dives of emperor penguins (Aptenodytes forsteri) are less than 100 m, penguins from the Cape Washington colony regularly perform deep dives > 400 m. To evaluate the significance and location of these deep dives of birds on foraging trips from Cape Washington, we report the satellite tracks of three birds. We also review the frequency of deep dives in the 35 of 42 birds that performed deep dives during seven research seasons over 22 years. Records included 83,314 dives, of which 1418 were > 400 m deep (deepest 552 m). Durations of these deep dives ranged from 7 to 13 min, up to more than twice the aerobic dive limit. Inter-deep-dive-intervals (IDDIs) between most deep dives were 10–20 min. The travel routes of satellite-tagged birds showed that all three spent time over Crary Bank, about 100 km from Cape Washington. Dives > 400 m only occurred over Crary Bank in the two satellite-tracked birds that were also equipped with dive recorders. The depths of the dives were consistent with the distribution of the most common, and energy-dense prey item found in their diet, Pleuragramma antarctica. We conclude that significant food resources are located over Crary Bank, accounting for the deep dives and success of birds from Cape Washington, the second largest, stable colony of emperor penguins known.

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Acknowledgements

This project was supported NSF/OPP Grants GA 4038 and GA 13713 to G. L. Kooyman; NSF DPP 87-15864 Special creative award to G. Kooyman; NSF/OPP 0229638 and 0944220 to P.J. Ponganis, and funds from the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science (A19255001) to K. Sato. Thanks for all of the assistance by the NSF OPP staff especially Polly Penhale and Davd Bresnahan, for field assistance from Yves Cherel, Don Croll, Melinda Fowler, Carsten Kooyman, Tory Kooyman, Gitte McDonald, Katherine Ponganis, Patrice Robison, Steve Smith, Sheridan Stone, Mike Tift, and Greg Marshall, and for technical assistance of Wildlife Computers, Melinda Holland, Heather Baer, Adrian Rembold. We also thank US Navy squadron VXE 6 the C-130 flight crews in 1986 and 1989, the VXE6 Helicopter crews of 1989, the Captains and crews of the Coastguard Icebreaker Polar Sea in 1986, 1989, and 1993, and especially Capt. Lawson Brigham in 1993, the Kenn Borek flight crews from 1990, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2005 and 2011, and Mario Zucchelli, station manager for Italy’s Mario Zucchelli Station, for hosting us on several Christmas Days for a shower, dinner, and helicopter transport to and from our camp. We thank Kozue Shiomi, Sara Labrousse and David Ainley, the reviewers of the manuscript. Their comments and suggestions greatly improved the paper.

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Kooyman, G.L., Goetz, K., Williams, C.L. et al. Crary bank: a deep foraging habitat for emperor penguins in the western Ross Sea. Polar Biol 43, 801–811 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00300-020-02686-3

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Keywords

  • Penguin
  • Crary bank
  • Antarctic silverfish
  • Ross sea
  • Inter-deep-dive-interval
  • Ross sea region MPA