As humen, who are we to criticize other creatures’ feeding habits? I mean, we invented the cronut. Some animals, however, cant afford to be picky, so it was with some surprise that new research suggests Adlie penguins actually have a particular savor for jellyfish with rather prominent gonads. Each to their own, we guess.
Last year, researchers from the French and Japanese national Antarctic programs, backed by the World Wildlife Foundation( WWF ), studied Adlie penguins in their native habitat employing tiny penguin cams to assure what they get up to under the ice.
The footage was released last December and garnered lots of attention as people curiosity got the better of them.
However, the researchers were studying the footage closely too, in order totry and discover essential information about the behavior of these penguins that might help us to increase understanding of and protect them. A year later, they have released some of the results.
The fact that penguins are happy to feed upon krill is well-documented, however the footage showed that even if krill was available to snack on, the penguins insteadmade a beeline forjellyfish with largegonads when they were in the vicinity.
“We were surprised to see the penguins go for jellyfish, Jean-Baptiste Thiebot of Japan’s National Institute of Polar Science said. It raised the question: is this new behavior for Adlie penguins, possibly developed because they had a hard time seeing food during this year of very unusual sea-ice conditions? Or is it simply newly revealed by using this video approach to study their diet? “
The researchers suspect that the reason penguins go for the particularlyeye-catching gonads is because they offer up a higher nutritious protein content than the rest of the jellyfish.
The wildlife information gathered by the researchers and their penguin cams is being used by the WWF to help in the creation of marine protected areas around the Antarctic. Species like Adlie penguins are already being affected by overfishing and climate change, so understanding more about their feeding habits will go a long way towards understanding the threats posed to them and how to manage them in the future.
A year on from the release of the penguin cam footage, its clear that we still have a lot to learn about Adlie penguins and other ice species, ” Rod Downie, WWF Polar Programme Manager, said. “The results devote us a better understanding of how they are likely respond to climate change and related transformations in the Antarctic food web.”