Wiring penguins to keep watch on the food chain

As two major infrastructure projects get underway, the Phillip Island Nature Park is using satellite tracking devices to monitor its penguin colony for any adverse effects the projects will have on the ecosystem and the local food chain. The devices will be attached to seven Little Blues for one foraging trip and then taken off for study.

“Penguins always provide a good focal point for changes in the marine ecosystem … they are toward the top of the food chain, so any adverse effects tend to get multiplied as you go up the food chain.”

Peter Dann, Research Manager at Phillip Island Nature Park

The devices have been used on penguins before but they had never been tracked through winter which is one of their toughest times as they have to travel further to find food.

“This research is very important because we will get more detailed information on critical foraging habitats, which will help us protect and manage the habitat and help us find out more about the marine environment.”

Clare McCutcheon, Researcher

Phillip Island will be visible from the proposed site of the desalination plant and its brine output could have an impact on the penguins’ food source. They say that the penguins have some problems if the nutrient-rich waters from Antarctica fail to arrive on time.

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