Albatross camera reveals fascinating feeding interaction with killer whale

Oct 07, 2009
Albatross camera reveals fascinating feeding interaction with killer whale
Albatrosses over Southern Ocean.

Scientists from British Antarctic Survey, National Institute of Polar Research, Tokyo, and Hokkaido University, Japan, have recorded the first observations of how albatrosses feed alongside marine mammals at sea.

A miniature digital camera was attached to the backs of four black-browed albatrosses (Thalassarche melanophrys) breeding at colonies on Bird Island, South Georgia in the Southern Ocean. Results are published online this week in the open-access journal from the Public Library of Science.

The amazing pictures reveal albatrosses foraging in groups while at sea collecting food for their chicks. It also provides the first observation of an albatross feeding with a killer whale - a strategy they may adopt for efficiency.

The camera, developed by the National Institute for Polar Research in Tokyo, is removed when the albatross returns to its breeding ground after foraging trips. It is small (the size of a packet of polo mints) and weighs 82g. Although the camera slightly changes the aerodynamic shape of the albatross, it didn't affect the breeding success of the study birds.

Dr Richard Phillips from British (BAS) says,

"These images are really interesting. They show us that albatrosses associate with marine mammals in the same way as tropical seabirds often do with tuna. In both cases the prey (usually fish) are directed to the surface and then it's easy hunting for the birds."

The study took place at the colony of black-browed albatrosses at Bird Island, South Georgia in January 2009, as part of a UK-Japan International Polar Year 2007-9 project.

Source: British Antarctic Survey (news : web)

Explore further: Survey debunks myth of 'flying ant day'

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Wandering albatrosses follow their nose

Mar 07, 2008

The first study of how individual wandering albatrosses find food shows that the birds rely heavily on their sense of smell. The birds can pick up a scent from several miles away, U.S. and French researchers have found.

First comprehensive 'inventory' of life in Antarctica

Dec 01, 2008

The first comprehensive "inventory" of sea and land animals around a group of Antarctic islands reveals a region that is rich in biodiversity and has more species than the Galapagos. The study provides an important benchmark ...

Mystery of the albatross may soon be solved

Oct 15, 2007

The mystery of where juvenile albatrosses fly to after leaving New Zealand may soon be solved, with satellite tracking devices now successfully showing the progress of two males and one female hatched at Taiaroa ...

Recommended for you

Smarter than a first-grader?

3 hours ago

In Aesop's fable about the crow and the pitcher, a thirsty bird happens upon a vessel of water, but when he tries to drink from it, he finds the water level out of his reach. Not strong enough to knock over ...

How honey bees stay cool

15 hours ago

Honey bees, especially the young, are highly sensitive to temperature and to protect developing bees, adults work together to maintain temperatures within a narrow range. Recently published research led by ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Towchain
5 / 5 (1) Oct 07, 2009
The cameras were an albatross around the neck of the albatrosses.
david_42
not rated yet Oct 07, 2009
Once again, the tag function is demonstrated to be useless. Linking to the PLoS ONE article on the topic would be good, linking to a definition of PLoS ONE is meaningless.