Researchers from the French and Japanese national Antarctic programs attached miniature cameras on the backs of Adélie penguins to capture their foraging habits in the frigid Antarctic waters.
The footage was captured in Terre Adélie -- "the land of the Adélies" -- a sliver of Antarctica claimed by France. The tiny cameras, which weighed just 15-22 grams, were placed onto the backs of the penguins before they went out to sea to feed. The researchers said this caused no harm to the animals. The cameras were then recovered when the penguins returned to their nests.
In between, they captured rare views of the birds diving and swimming beneath the ice.
The World Wildlife Fund UK (WWF-UK) is also supporting the research, and said it was party inspired by a popular ad campaign. "Monty-mania last Christmas helped us to support this important scientific research using new technology which gives us incredible insight into where and how penguins feed," WWF Polar Programme Manager Rod Downie said in a press release. Monty-mania started after British department store John Lewis decided to cast a penguin named Monty in its Christmas TV ad last year. (See the YouTube video below.)
"Ultimately, this will help to safeguard the future of these amazing birds, which are threatened by predicted climate change," Downie said.
The conservation group is working to create a network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) around Antarctica, which will protect the feeding grounds of penguins, seals and whales, and help to conserve one of the world's last great wildernesses.