Why study animal behavior in Patagonia?
The study of animal behavior is fascinating and reveals unknown aspects of the evolution of species. Some animals develop their behaviors in front of our eyes. Others, such as penguins and giant petrels, keep their secrets in the deep sea or hundreds of miles offshore. Studying the behavior of these marine species requires the use of advance technology. Daily, our team is astonished by the discovery of fascinating behaviors such as penguins diving 100 meters deep to capture their prey or giant petrels crossing the ocean during their long at-sea voyages. These activities motivate us to learn, interpret, and disseminate how seabirds respond under extreme and vulnerable conditions. We are thrilled that our studies help to conserve these species and their marine habitat.
A great moment in the field:
Bebote is an electronic device that records animal behavior. This small instrument obtains the position at sea from any carrier penguin as well as its speed, the orientation of its body, the depth and duration of dives, and even the water temperature that a penguin swims through. One afternoon in November, 2013, we set Bebote and a tiny video camera on an adult male Magellanic penguin brooding healthy chicks. In addition to electronically recording its behavior, we hoped to obtain the first images of a diving penguin. After leaving the nest, the adult male returned after 48 hours. When we saw him, we were extremely excited. But as we approached the nest, our excitement faded when we realized that Bebote had fallen into the sea and only the small video camera remained on his back. Back at the field camp, however, we quickly regained our excitement when we downloaded the first images ever recorded for a Magellanic penguin during its underwater journey.