Multi-year penguin tracking

Image of the Month - December 2015

Year per year penguins tracks with the Polar front (green line, positionned by the 5°C and 4°C monthly isotherms) In February-March 1997, the penguins had to go much farther to find preys to feed. (Credits CEBC/CNRS)

King penguins breed on Crozet Island every Southern Summer. During the incubation period, each parent takes its turn to go and feed at sea. Their prey catching success is better when they reach the Northern boundary of the Antarctic Polar Front. But this boundary varies from year to year, in link with wide-scale phenomena like El Niño but also the Southern Annular Mode. 

Altimetry is one of the way of positionning these kind of fronts (not the only one, though). It also able to better understand the ocean circulation in general, but also the path of marine animals like the penguins.

See also:

Other websites on this subject:


  • Bost, C. et al. Large-scale climatic anomalies affect marine predator foraging behaviour and demography. Nat. Commun. 6:8220 doi: 10.1038/ncomms9220 (2015).