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Airdrops and king penguins: a potential conservation problem at sub-Antarctic Marion Island

  • John Cooper (a1), Nico L. Avenant (a2) and Peter W. Lafite (a1)

Abstract

Evidence for the disturbance of king penguins (Aptenodytes patagonicus) and other seabirds at sub-Antarctic islands by fixed-wing aircraft making airdrops is reviewed. Based on direct observations of panicking birds at king penguin colonies at Marion Island as Lockheed C-130 Hercules aircraft flew past, it is postulated that the incident at Macquarie Island in 1990 when many king penguins were found dead shortly after a flypast was most likely caused by panic induced by the aircraft's passage. Visits by fixed-wing aircraft to sub-Antarctic islands should be kept to a minimum and no airstrips should be built on them. Specific recommendations are given for fixed-wing aircraft visits to Marion Island, in order to reduce disturbance to king penguins and other seabirds to the absolute minimum. These recommendations should be adopted at all sub-Antarctic islands.

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Airdrops and king penguins: a potential conservation problem at sub-Antarctic Marion Island

  • John Cooper (a1), Nico L. Avenant (a2) and Peter W. Lafite (a1)

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