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Thursday, 28 August 2014

Gannet coverage by researchers at Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML)



Researchers at @PlymouthMarine Laboratory (PML) and the University of Exeter have combined two innovative technologies to probe the mystery of how seabirds locate food hotspots across vast tracts of ocean.

Dr Steve Votier from the Environment & Sustainability Institute (ESI) at the University of Exeter who led the gannet research programme commented: "We have been studying gannet behaviour for nearly 10 years and have learnt much about what they do while at sea, but the key to this research was working with oceanographers. Using state-of-the-art satellite imagery they have enabled us to investigate how gannets forage at fronts – discontinuities in temperature and phytoplankton". 

During the study, 66 gannets were tracked over two breeding seasons, revealing that the average foraging trip was around 178kms – with some travelling as far as 430kms in a single round trip.

By bringing the two technologies together, the scientists have shown that the birds search out regions where fronts form most frequently, so making their foraging more efficient and less energetically costly.

The gannet videos were shot by University of Exeter students on a research programme to study how gannets search for and source their food.  This involved attaching micro video cams to the neck of marked gannets. The birds were tracked and the micro video cams retrieved.


In the waters around Newlyn and West penwith gannets seldom come close to the shore in Mount's Bay but can often be seen from the coastal path from Mousehole around Land's End or diving off Sennen Beach when shoals of mackerel or sardines are close inshore.

Read the stories in full here:

http://phys.org/news/2014-08-scientists-unravel-mystery-gannets-success.html

http://phys.org/news/2013-11-incredible-gannet-cam-captures-birds-eye.html#inlRlv