Mobile version

Penguins at large

Image of the Month - June 2010

Path of two King penguins from the Argonautica campaign 2009-2010 superimposed on sea surface height anomalies (in cm); They both started from the Possession island in the Crozet Archipelago. Left, the one named "King" by the students, right "Garfield". They are skirting the edges of eddies.
See the animation for King in gif (600 KB); and for Garfield in gif (1.7 MB). (Credits CNRS/CEBC)

The Cnes educational project Argonautica aims to help better know the oceans, and understand the climate using satellites resources. Different beacons are thus tracked, and data are provided about the underlying ocean -- altimetry among others. Some of the satellite beacons are tracking animals, like King penguins (IPEV 394 programme, resp.  C.A. Bost , CNRS Chizé).

The King penguins are living in the Southern Ocean. A number of them reproduce on the Crozet archipelago, the two parents taking turn to care for the egg, then for their young. They go from the islands to the open ocean, where they feed, before going back, and so on. During their foraging cruise, they tend to follow ocean currents, and to feed in oceanic fronts. The penguins paths are often seen at the edge of the eddies, between a cold and a warm one, especially in the areas where they slow down to feed. The edge of
anticyclonic (warm-core) eddy presents an elevation of water masses, i.e. a more accessible concentration of prey at shallow depths

Satellite altimetry is one of the tools that can be used to better understand the links between the currents (and more broadly the dynamics of the ocean) and the marine animal behaviors (including foraging).

King Penguin tracking from 2006-2007 (Sea level anomalies on January 1st 2007). In red, a penguin track from December 22 to January 13 during the incubation stage (using an anticyclonic eddy); in blue, another penguin, gone from January 12 to January 30 also during the incubation stage (but using a cyclonic eddy); and in pink, one gone from January 14 to 28, during young rearing (use of a cyclonic eddy) (Credits CNRS/CEBC)

See also:

Other websites on this subject:


  • Cotte, C., Y.H. Park, C. Guinet, C.A. Bost, Movements of foraging king penguins through
    marine mesoscale eddies, Proc. R. Soc. B (2007) 274, 2385–2391 doi:10.1098/rspb.2007.0775
Rss feedsContactPartnersFAQLexiconLegal noticePersonal Data Protection PolicyMobile
You must enable cookies in your browser preferences to save the modifications
You are using an older version of Internet Explorer, please update to take full advantage of Aviso+ features

Customize the home page

View all widgets
Reduce display
Public profile
User profile

Select/Deselect widgets

Discover AVISO+

Customizable home, reading tools, products search guide, etc.. Discover step by step the features of the new site AVISO+.

Customizable homepage

This home page is composed of blocks called "widgets".

Rearrange the blocks with a "Click & Drop".

Hide a widget with the cross at the top right. Reset or add a widget with the "wrench" icon. The "User" and "Public" profiles offer a predefined organization.

All the modifications are automatically saved as cookies on your machine so as to enable you to have your own specific AVISO+.

Reading tools

Ease your reading by choosing the page background colour (black/white) and/or by modifying the font size.

Browsing menu and breadcrum trail

To ease your browsing through AVISO+, you can use at any time the main banner items with the interactive submenus or use the browsing menu on the left side of the screen (it is open by default). For more readiness of the page contents, you can fold and unfold the browsing menu by clicking on the tab. At any time you can know where you are thanks to the browsing menu or the breadcrum at the top of the page.

Products search guide

The first submenu of the "Data" banner item leads you to a new search form enabling you to find quickier the product that suits your needs. The list of results is updated according to your selection criteria.

AVISO+ Multimedia

The first submenu of the "Multimedia" banner item leads you to AVISO+ collections of images and videos linked to altimetry and its applications. Have a nice visit!