Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego penguin biologist Dr. Gerald Kooyman is embarking on a two-month research cruise beginning in February 2013 to research a remote colony of emperor penguins at a never-before-studied area in Antarctica. His team will tag the penguins with transmitters that will provide data about their movements during an incredibly stressful period of their lives: their annual molting season.
During molting (the shedding of feathers to make way for new growth) the emperor penguins are unable to hunt for food and drastically lose weight. The data collected from this research excursion will help scientists learn more about how these animals survive during this time and may provide glimpses into how penguins are adapting to a warming world.
Also on the cruise are researchers Geoffrey Gearheart, Gitte McDonald, and Kim Goetz, who are studying emperor penguins along with other marine animals in the Antarctic. Birch Aquarium at Scripps executive director Nigella Hillgarth is serving as the team’s educational liaison. Learn more about them on our Meet the Team page.