Penguins on the Prowl
Critter cams are revealing the efficiency of Adélie penguins in picking off prey. A recent study by Dr. Yuuki Watanabe and Dr. Akinori Takahashi involved attaching small cameras and speed monitors to penguins in order to see firsthand how they forage. The penguins turned out to be remarkably skilled hunters, gathering prey with unerring accuracy and breathtaking speed. In dense prey swarms, they can capture two krill per second. One bird gobbled up over 200 krill in about an hour. And it turned out that they can be sneaky, using the ice as a barrier to trap fish. It is impressive to see how rapidly the penguins move their heads, and it makes me think about their brain structure.
Reference: Watanabe, Y. and A.Takahashi. In Press 2013. Linking animal-borne video to accelerometers reveals prey capture variability. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.