The course blog for Bio 412 - Marine Biology at Ashland University
Thursday, February 18, 2010
The African penguin gets some help finding its food.
The African penguin, Spheniscus demersus, has been endangered since 2001. The penguin is endemic to South Africa, and its diet consists solely of fish. Which is why Africa's only penguin is being threatened, the fish populations it normally feeds on are being either fished up or the fish populations have simply moved due to many different reasons.
The African Government in association with researchers closed fishing around the largest of the African penguin's colonies in 2009. An area next to this "no fish zone" remained open to fishermen so that researchers could compare the effects on the penguins' feeding behaviors. Similar to the murre study discussed in class, the goal was to determine the amount of energy spent searching for food. With GPS trackers and some sophisticated equipment the researchers were able to determine that when the penguins had a 20 km (radius) of open non-fished waters they expended 40% less energy and time devoted to foraging was decreased by 30%.
The Study showed that there is an extremely significant immediate benefit to establishing marine life protected zones in areas where the endangered species hunt. The long term benefit may be the reclaiming of marine ecosystems that had been over fished. The penguins most don't know exist are, in fact, being saved.