In our hunger for more knowledge and more signs of other species and their communication, we the humans keep experimenting. This time – penguins – scientists strapped cameras to the backs of some penguins. This way they successfully acquired tens of hours of footage of the penguins, so they were able to study and observe the penguins and their communication patterns and how they use particular sounds for their diverse purposes and to ‘talk’ with other penguins, while they all hunt for their meal in the sea.
Scientists have observed a clear difference in the behavior of the penguins after a particular call made by some of them in waters off the coast of Antarctica. They have observed that penguins after such calls start to make shallower short dives and even move further to new spots instead of following a particular spot for the food.
It came as a surprise that penguins use their vocal sounds as their communication strategy for their joint hunting trips and purposes. The study made and published by the scientists was on the penguins of sub-Antarctic islands & Antarctic region for 2 years. The recordings proved for the first time the authenticity of their claims as the scientists previously collected 598 offshore calls but they were still limited, unlike on the land where they can easily record the various range of sound and vocals. The cameras didn’t harm any penguin and weighed only an ounce.
The observation concludes that the calls were to unite the groups most of the times when they went for hunting together but didn’t affect them in any other behavioral changes during the hunting, said by Dr. Lee of the Korea Polar Research Institute.
He also mentioned the benefits of moving in groups: helps in hunting the prey, helps in their protection and even in bearing the hardships of environment. The calls by penguins vary in frequency and thus mean different every time.
Dr. Lee said, “The calls were recorded though they cannot be observed properly in the water but they seem to convey messages for grouping and thus they dive in shallow depths and that too for very short duration”.
Scientists are not sure how these vocal observations convey the different meanings for the Gentoo penguins but they are sure that they do not make much difference in their hunting or help them in the increase of prey. They all unanimously think that more studies and observations are required to ascertain more things in detail about the penguins and their use of vocals for communication.
(Photo credit: Mihai P)