GPS trackers help to study beautiful black browed albatross on Macquarie Island

Scientists have successfully deployed miniature GPS loggers on threatened black browed albatross on sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island to find out more about the foraging habits of the birds. Approximately 40 pairs of black browed albatross breed on the steep slopes of the remote Island, and this summer researchers attached five loggers to the breeding birds.

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Threatened sea-bird travels thousands of kilometres to feed

Scientists on sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island have used satellite tags to track the foraging behaviour of a threatened sea-bird, the grey petrel, for the first time. The grey petrel weighs one kilogram and is a burrowing seabird which breeds on Macquarie Island, half way between Australia and Antarctica.

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How molluscs build their shells in the sub-zero waters of Antarctica

With increasing carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere, levels are also increasing in the oceans, leading to ocean acidification. In recent years environmental scientists have been dedicating much effort to predict the fate of marine calcifiers, organisms which build their shells from calcium, under future ocean acidification scenarios. A team of European researchers used a range of new technologies to look at the molecules and cells involved in shell production of the Antarctic clam (Laternula elliptica).  Their results identified seven proteins from the lustrous mother of pearl shell layer, including two which were totally unique to this species.

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Adélies might loose race against climate change

Climate has influenced the distribution patterns of Adélie penguins across Antarctica for millions of years. The geologic record tells us that as glaciers expanded and covered Adélie breeding habitats with ice, penguin colonies were abandoned. When the glaciers melted during warming periods, this warming positively affected the Adélie penguins, allowing them to return to their rocky breeding grounds. But now, University of Delaware scientists and colleagues report that this beneficial warming may have reached its tipping point.

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Have one, get three: New data reveals three Antarctic blue whale populations

Blue whales are the largest animals that have ever lived on Earth. During the first half of the 20th century, this iconic species suffered heavy losses in the Antarctic waters due to whaling. Since then, numbers have been slowly rising but it is unclear how many blue whales still roam the Southern Ocean. An Australian research team has now presented new genetic data and was able to identify three genetically distinct populations of these critically endangered giants.

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Weighing Seals without Scales

A new technique photogrammetry is used to determine the weight of nursing seal mothers. This research is part of an ongoing project which studies the Weddell seal population in McMurdo Sound.

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How do krill survive the Antarctic winter?

Scientists from the Alfred Wegener Institute together with international colleagues could analyse the distribution and behaviour of larval and juvenile krill beneath wintery Antarctic sea ice for the first time. In order to decrypt the life cycle of this ecologically important species 51 scientists and technicians as well as 44 crewmembers sailed the Weddell Sea for 63 days.

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Eight-legged friends discovered in Antarctic waters

The Antarctic waters are not simply an aquatic desert but deem with life. Almost every season, researchers find new and previously unknown species in the depths of the ocean and their bizarre shapes astonish both scientists and common people alike. In addition, the not widely known sea spider seems to exist in a higher number than previously assumed. It is probable that these eight-legged aquatic animals have once spread from Antarctica to adjacent waters and from there conquered the world’s oceans according to marine biologists. The scientists have published their findings in the magazine “Royal Society Open Science. Until now, it had been hypothesized that several species of sea spider had moved to Antarctic waters instead of developing there.

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The secret life of penguins revealed

More than 1.5 million volunteers from around the world have counted penguins in 175,000 online images in a unique citizen science project called Penguin Watch revealing some surprising facts.

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When you are not a gourmet: Reduced sense of taste in penguins

Penguins apparently cannot enjoy or even detect the savory taste of the fish they eat or the sweet taste of fruit. A new analysis of the genetic evidence reported in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on February 16 suggests that the flightless, waddling birds have lost three of the five basic tastes over evolutionary time. For them, it appears, food comes in only two flavors: salty and sour.

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