In this study, we introduce the initial results from three seasons (2011-2013) of penguin observations made in the waters off the South Orkney Islands. The surveys followed pre-determined transect lines during five consecutive days within late January and early February. Three species of penguins were observed and Chinstrap penguins (Pygoscelis antarctica) dominated in numbers during all three seasons, with Adélie (P. adeliae) and Gentoo penguins (P. papua) only present in modest numbers. The average number of penguins observed per hour increased from year to year, with 7.8 ind/hour in 2011, 32.8 ind/hour in 2012 and 58.5 ind/hour in 2013. Different results also appeared when comparing data collected two times in the same area during the same survey. Future research will consider these results to the differences in study design, density of prey resources and relevant physical factors. This study is part of a larger program that aims to establish and build time series of environmental data, Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba) and krill predator’s abundance and distribution patterns in this area.
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Sarah Mackey (Secretaría de la CCRVMA)
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