Time-Lapse Video Spies on Penguins to Gauge Foraging Habits

In a new study, scientists say they can monitor the health of penguin colonies—like this one at Pointe Géologie in Adélie Land in Antarctica—by setting up long-term observatories that relay data to researchers thousands of miles away. © Céline Le Bohec/IPEV/CNRS/CSM

Researchers at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) have developed a way to help determine the foraging success of Emperor penguins by using time-lapse video observations relayed to scientists thousands of miles away. The new remote sensing method is described in the May 2, 2018, issue of the Journal of Applied Physics.

Determining Emperor penguins’ foraging success involves a two-step process. First, digital photos of the birds are taken every minute throughout the day using an inexpensive time-lapse camera perched above the colony 100 ft. away. The camera is rugged enough to withstand up to −50° Celsius temperatures and wind speeds above 150 km per hr.

Images are recorded and stored in an image database and later correlated with sensor-based measurements of air temperature, relative humidity, solar radiation and wind.

Read the full article and watch time-lapse footage of penguin foraging at WHOI.

Watch a multimedia video about the project and interview with research leader Daniel Zitterbart created by bioGraphic.

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