Earthwatch Scientist, Gabriela Blanco, Ph.D.

Gabriela Blanco, Ph.D.

Adjunct Researcher
Centro Para el Estudio de Sistemas Marinos (CESIMAR - CONICET)

Dr. Gabriela Blanco, a native of the Patagonia region, has an appreciation for its wild landscapes. A penguin and petrel expert, she has also spent much of her career exploring migration and nesting behavior.

What’s exciting about this research?

There are many things we don’t know about penguins—every animal that goes into the water is a mystery. Technology is developing so that we can now access behaviors we have never seen before. We tried attaching a camera to a penguin last year: the penguin goes on a foraging trip, and we can see everything the penguin did during that time. But we still have to guess about their exact movements. Now we have a complicated instrument that can record every tiny movement of an animal in the water. This instrument gives us a graph, and we look for patterns: if they wiggle a lot, for example, we assume they are eating. So when we put the camera and this new device together, we will really be able to see everything. We’ve already done this with cormorants, but penguins will be new.

Favorite memory in field?

The first time I went to a petrel colony -- it was just incredible to see. It was on an island, and you just see the horizon with all these heads popping up, which was impressive. The first time we went to this island we counted the petrels, and there were around a thousand chicks, all looking at you.

  • Ph.D. in Biology, Drexel University (U.S.)
  • B.S. in Biology, Universidad Nacional de la Patagonia San Juan Bosco (AR)
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