Wednesday, December 30, 2009

BBC on a new band for penguins

Although I like the story they are trying to portray, this BBC article leaves a lot to be desired. Apparently there are flying penguins at the South Pole now. At least they got the southern hemisphere right.

Big Mac, Elephant Island Jan. 2007

The flexible leg bands are an interesting idea. If I remember right, when they first tried metal leg bands they wound up sitting on the top of the foot and caused lots of problems wearing on the foot. They apparently also built up with lots of ice as the birds moved in and out of the water. I would be worried that the latter problem would not be tested well in the zoo and they may still have problems in the wild, but I am glad to see them trying it in a controlled situation first.

Marking penguins has always been a problem because of the way the stand and move through the water. One not-to-be-named country's research group wound up using plastic beaded zip ties with a flat flag on one end that had a unique number on it. We found a number of them on penguins at the research site I worked at and we wound up cutting them all off when we found them because they were causing horrible lacerations at the base of the flipper where they had been placed. They would have been lost to the researchers when the penguin died anyway and this way at least the penguin lived.

Little Mac, Elephant Island, Jan. 2007

Metal flipper bands still seem to be the best way to efficiently mark penguins for most studies. They can be easily noticed and read at a distance and appear to cause only minimal problems for some individuals. It would be really nice to get even better at marking these birds though.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice story as for me. I'd like to read a bit more concerning this theme. The only thing I would like to see here is a few pics of some gizmos.
Nickolas Trider
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