Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not an Insider? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

Emily Singer

A View from Emily Singer

Tiny Cameras Capture Albatross's Feeding Secrets

New footage suggests the birds follow killer whales.

  • October 6, 2009

Tiny cameras mounted to the backs of black-browed albatrosses show that the animals, which hunt out at sea, may forage by following killer whales. The findings are just one example of a growing body of research using miniaturized cameras to reveal how animals behave in their natural environment. In this study, more than 28,000 pictures were taken from cameras on three albatrosses. The animals were tagged at a breeding colony on Bird Island, South Georgia earlier this year.

A small camera mounted on an albatross shows the birds
interacting with a killer whale.
Credit: National Institute of Polar Research, Japan

According to a press release from the journal PLoS ONE, which published the research:

The amazing pictures reveal albatrosses foraging in groups while at sea collecting food for their chicks. It also provides the first observation of an albatross feeding with a killer whale - a strategy they may adopt for efficiency.

The camera, developed by the National Institute for Polar Research in Tokyo, is removed when the albatross returns to its breeding ground after foraging trips. It is small (the size of a lipstick) and weighs 82g. Although the camera slightly changes the aerodynamic shape of the albatross, it didn’t affect the breeding success of the study birds.

Dr Richard Phillips from British Antarctic Survey (BAS) says, “These images are really interesting. They show us that albatrosses associate with marine mammals in the same way as tropical seabirds often do with tuna. In both cases the prey (usually fish) are directed to the surface and then it’s easy hunting for the birds.”

One of the birds flies past an iceberg.
Credit: National Institute of Polar Research, Japan.
This image shows the birds feeding together.
Credit: National Institute of Polar Research, Japan

For other animal insights caught on camera, check out:

Penguin-Recognition Software

Seals Gather New Ocean Data

AI is here.
Own what happens next at EmTech Digital 2019.

Register now
More from Rewriting Life

Reprogramming our bodies to make us healthier.

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Plus.
  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus the digital magazine, extensive archive, ad-free web experience, and discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events.

    See details+

    Print + Digital Magazine (6 bi-monthly issues)

    Unlimited online access including all articles, multimedia, and more

    The Download newsletter with top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox

    Technology Review PDF magazine archive, including articles, images, and covers dating back to 1899

    10% Discount to MIT Technology Review events and MIT Press

    Ad-free website experience

/3
You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. This is your last free article this month. for unlimited online access. You've read all your free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for more, or for unlimited online access. for two more free articles, or for unlimited online access.