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Penguins Team Up to Catch Prey

Update Date: Aug 13, 2014 04:04 PM EDT

Penguins work in teams when hunting. New research reveals that little penguins synchronize their underwater movements during foraging trips.

Researchers said that little penguins, which are the smallest penguin species, can only be found in southern Australia, New Zealand, and the Chatham Islands. These birds also spend most of their life looking for food.

Scientists said that the latest findings are important because information about group foraging behavior in seabirds is hard to come by.

In the latest study, researchers used d GPS-derived location and diving data to observe at-sea foraging behaviors of little penguins during breeding season. After fathering 84 separate foraging tracks, researchers managed to categories little penguins into three different groups: not associating with other penguins; associating when departing from or returning to the colony; or at sea when traveling or diving, including synchronized dives.

The study also revealed that 70 percent of little penguins' foraging tracks synchronized with other penguins and 50 percent of individuals dove while synchronizing with other penguins. The findings also show that 40 percent of little penguins showed synchronous diving, suggesting that these birds team up and synchronize their underwater movements when catching prey.

The study was published August 13, 2014 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE.

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