Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Marine protected areas: A solution for saving the penguin

Date:
February 16, 2010
Source:
CNRS (Délégation Paris Michel-Ange)
Summary:
Researchers have shown that closing fishing zones in the ocean has a beneficial effect on Cape penguins, an endangered species endemic to Southern Africa that feeds exclusively on fish.

African penguin.
Credit: Copyright David Grémillet

Researchers from the Centre d'écologie fonctionnelle et évolutive (CNRS/Universités Montpellier 1, 2, 3/Montpellier SupAgro/CIRAD/EPHE) and the University of the Cape in South Africa (1) have shown that closing fishing zones in the ocean has a beneficial effect on Cape penguins, an endangered species endemic to Southern Africa that feeds exclusively on fish. This result comes from a unique experiment carried out by the researchers on two penguin colonies, with the collaboration of government authorities and the South African fishing industries.

These results are published on 10 February 2010 on the website of the journal Biology Letters.

The Cape penguin Spheniscus demersus (the only African penguin) is endangered as a result of the 60% decline in its worldwide population between 2001 and 2009. This decline can be attributed to a dearth of food, due to displacement of the banks of sardines and anchovies which these birds feed on. Competition with the fisheries which exploit the last remaining fish around the South African penguin colonies exacerbates the threat to the species. Faced with this crisis situation, and working with researchers and the South African fish industries, the South African governmental agency overseeing fisheries (Marine and Coastal Management) closed to fishing in January 2009 a 20-km radius ocean area around the largest Cape penguin colony (on the island of St Croix, Algoa Bay). A "witness" zone around another penguin colony (Bird Island), 50 km east of St Croix in the same bay, has remained open to fishing in order to enable researchers to compare penguin feeding behaviors.

The researchers studied the food-seeking behavior of 91 birds in these two colonies, thanks to GPS recorders, in 2008 and 2009, namely before and after the area was closed to fishing. The miniature recorders, in watertight hydrodynamic boxes, were attached to the feathers at the base of the birds' backs with adhesive. The goal was to record the latitude and longitude of the birds every minute, and the hydrostatic pressure (diving depth) every second. These data made it possible to calculate the effort each bird expended in searching for food, in terms of the length of time spent traveling, the distance covered, the number, depth and location of dives.

The results are striking: In 2008, before the area was closed to fishing, the St Croix penguins mainly fished (75% of dives) more than 20 km from their colony, covering up to 150 km in two days in their search for food. In 2009, on the other hand, only 3 months after the area had been closed to fishing, 70% of dives were less than 20 km away, within the protected marine area. The time devoted to searching for food also decreased by 30%, which reduced their daily energy expenditure by 40%. By way of comparison, the area within which the Bird Island penguins (the control colony) searched for food remained the same both years, with the penguins even expending more energy searching for food in 2009.

This experiment shows the immediate benefits of the creation of a Marine Protected Area for the preservation of an endangered top marine predator species. The study confirms the negative impact of industrial fishing on feeding conditions for African penguins and also demonstrates the crucial importance of Marine Protected Areas (2) on endangered species conservation. When appropriately defined, these areas can facilitate the restoration of ocean ecosystems (3) damaged by the combined effects of climate change and overfishing.

Notes:

(1) Of the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology.

(2) The 1992 Rio convention stipulates that 10% of marine surfaces be protected. Nonetheless, only 0,8% of these surfaces is currently reserves. In this context, the creation of Marine Protected Areas (MPA) which help preserve marine predators which feed on mobile prey such as ocean fish, is urgent. This strategy is nonetheless controversial, as it is difficult, in open water, to clearly delimit PMAs which aim to preserve species as mobiles as superior predators and their prey. The general principle is that these reserves must be very large in order to encompass the vast habitats of marine predators; this makes it more difficult to set them up and manage them.

(3) Plankton, both phytoplankton and zooplankton, fish (notably sardines and anchovies), all living organisms in the water column between the ocean surface and bottom and which play a central role in the marine ecosystem.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by CNRS (Délégation Paris Michel-Ange). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

CNRS (Délégation Paris Michel-Ange). "Marine protected areas: A solution for saving the penguin." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 February 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100211090755.htm>.
CNRS (Délégation Paris Michel-Ange). (2010, February 16). Marine protected areas: A solution for saving the penguin. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100211090755.htm
CNRS (Délégation Paris Michel-Ange). "Marine protected areas: A solution for saving the penguin." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100211090755.htm (accessed August 27, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Super Healthful Fruits and Vegetables: Which Are Best?

Super Healthful Fruits and Vegetables: Which Are Best?

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) — We all know that it is important to eat our fruits and vegetables but do you know which ones are the best for you? Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Firefighters Rescue Puppy Stuck in Tire

Raw: Firefighters Rescue Puppy Stuck in Tire

AP (Aug. 26, 2014) — It took Houston firefighters more than an hour to free a puppy who got its head stuck in a tire. (Aug. 26) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Have You Ever Been 'Sleep Drunk?' 1 in 7 Has

Have You Ever Been 'Sleep Drunk?' 1 in 7 Has

Newsy (Aug. 26, 2014) — A study published in the journal "Neurology" interviewed more than 19,000 people and found 15 percent suffer from being "sleep drunk." Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Activists Urge NYC Mayor to Ban Carriage Horses

Activists Urge NYC Mayor to Ban Carriage Horses

AP (Aug. 26, 2014) — A group of New Yorkers are putting Mayor Bill de Blasio on notice for what they say is reneging on his campaign promise to ban carriage horses. They rallied Tuesday near the mayor's Gracie Mansion home. (Aug. 26) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins