Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

Scientists weigh up survival chances of penguins

Scientists have come up with an innovative scheme to weigh up the survival chances of threatened penguins.

Specially designed measuring scales have been built to allow experts to gain vital information about the feeding habits of the Adelie penguin.

Three sets of scales have been disguised and strategically placed on the routes popular with the birds at a colony in the Antarctic. The scales are triggered when the penguins waddle over them after returning from their fishing trips out at sea.

Weighing the birds gives scientists an indication of the amount of food they have eaten, which is crucial for finding out how the species are adapting to changes in their habitat.

Many of the world’s 18 species are found around the Antarctic peninsula, which is one of the three fastest-warming places on the planet.

In places, sea ice cover there has shrunk by 40% and penguin food supplies, such as krill, which depends on the sea ice, have become scarcer.

The World Wide Fund for Nature is concerned about recent fluctuations in populations in the region and the links with climate change.

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