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World's First Attempt to See Through the Eyes of Wild Penguins

When viewing things from a different height, the world looks completely different, doesn't it? What if you could go where other animals go? What world would you see then?

World's First Attempt to See Through the Eyes of Wild Penguins

Now, let's go taking underwater footage! (Photo by NIPR)

You may have seen scenes of penguins swimming in the Antarctic Ocean on TV. But TV camera operators can't dive with penguins down under the ice. So instead, scientists who wanted to know more about the underwater life of penguins started an experiment to have penguins record videos of the things they see deep in the ocean.

The National Institute of Polar Research in Japan conducted this study for about six weeks starting in December 2010. They attached tiny video cameras, each weighing just 33 grams, to the backs of 15 penguins. When penguins carrying a video camera dive into the ocean, the camera automatically turns on and starts recording a video of the underwater world seen by the penguin. Each camera can shoot up to 90 minutes of video.

The institute succeeded in retrieving visual data from 10 out of 15 video cameras attached to penguins. Akinori Takahashi of the institute says, "Our videos show penguins swimming together and catching fish and krill (tiny shellfish similar in shape to shrimp), their usual diet."

These video cameras will be used by the 53rd Antarctic Expedition party scheduled to leave Japan in November 2011, and also by the 54th Antarctic Expedition party after that. The two parties will use the cameras to research how penguin behavior is changing along with changes in the Antarctic environment.

Takahashi says he also hopes to use this camera to study other species of penguins, as well as seals and birds that can fly. What other scenes from the animal world will these cameras uncover?

(October 27, 2011 12:36 PM)

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