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November 25 2012

Sea ice found critical for emperor penguins' foraging


Motion detectors mounted on emperor penguins have revealed that sea ice plays a critical role in the birds' long food odyssey.

Emperor penguins rely on sea ice for breeding and feeding. Shifting patterns of sea ice due to changing climate in the Antarctic could alter the penguin's behavior and ecology, said study author Shinichi Watanabe, an animal ecologist and professor at Fukuyama University in Hiroshima, Japan.

The Antarctic sea ice hit a record maximum this year, but the sea ice distribution around the continent is changing, while the penguins nest in the same place every year.

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