Microchips used to ID penguins
Saturday 18th September, 2010Transponders, first used by the Trust on Stewart Island in 2005-06, are now used on all our reserves.
A tiny microchip embedded in glass is inserted under the skin with a needle, often at the back of the neck. Transponders are widely used for cats and dogs, farm animals and wild animals, including various penguin species. The transponder is a passive tag and is scanned using a handheld or wand reader.
In the past, the Trust has assisted the Department of Conservation with marking penguins, using stainless steel flipper bands, on its Tavora and Otapahi reserves. The bands have been suspected of causing injury through abrasion and entanglement, and also of negatively affecting foraging performance of some individuals and penguin species. Additionally, they require ongoing checking and maintenance. Debate on the possible impact of flipper banding continues in the scientific literature.
Marking the penguins with transponders therefore offers significant advantages. This extends to the monitoring, which is extremely accurate and usually less intrusive, especially when the long wand reader is used.
Data gathered from the penguins marked with transponders will continue to be contributed to the Department of Conservation yellow-eyed penguin database, and will enhance the Trust's understanding of yellow-eyed penguin populations and their dynamics, including key issues such as recruitment.