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article imageScales designed to weigh penguins in the wild

By Lynn Curwin     Dec 29, 2010 in Environment
Three special sets of scales are now weighing penguins in the Antarctic without the animals having to be anywhere near humans.
Scientists wanted to learn more about how the Adelie penguins are adapting to changes in habitat, and weighing them helps with this special scale by providing information on how much food they are eating.
Because the animals are sensitive to human presence, three sets of scales were designed which would weigh them as they waddled across terrain. The Telegraph reported that these were placed along routes often used by one colony of birds on their way back from feeding at sea.
The information is monitored by scientists working at the Dumont d'Urville base on Pointe Geologie archipelago.
The Adelie penguin, which is widely distributed, is one of the few penguin species not decreasing in numbers. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species records it as being of least concern. Other species under this listing are the Emperor, King, Little and Chinstrap.
Those listed as vulnerable are the Southern Rockhopper, Macaroni, Fjordland, Snares, Humboldt and Royal penguins, while the Gentoo, Magellanic and Galapagos are in the near-threatened category.
The Northern Rockhopper, Erect-crested, Yellow-eyed and African penguins are considered endangered.
The Adelie penguin, which is named after the wife of French explorer Admiral Durmont d'Urville, weighs only about 11 pounds.
In winter the birds rest in groups on pack ice and icebergs. In the spring they build nests of stones and pebbles on the shore, where they live in large colonies, and the mating pair raise their young together.
Antarctic Connection states that scientists use the Adelie as an indicator species to monitor the abundance of krill, which is vital to Antarctic life. The penguins eat krill, fish and shrimp.
More about Penguin, Penguins, Scales, Weigh, Antarctic
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