Carcasses of Adelie penguins as a food source for south polar skuas: some preliminary observations

Ian Norman, Ro MCFARLANE, Simon Ward

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


South Polar Skuas (Catharacta maccormicki) take eggs and young of Adelie bPenguins (Pygoscelis adeliae) by scavenging and predation. We collected carcasses of penguins near Davis, East Antarctica, and examined them for damage and tissue removal by skuas. Progression of tissue destruction and removal was used to indicate successive areas of feeding. Organs and tissues from undamaged, fresh corpses were weighed to determine potential food quantities. Areas of initial attack were around the head. Subsequent damage
was concentrated in the thoracic-abdominal regions, and around pelvic limb musculature. Such areas provided 19% (abdominal) and 12% (pelvic muscles) of the body mass. Because seabird eggs and chicks provide as much, if not more, energy as alternative foods (krill, fish) which require extended foraging, it is adaptive for skuas nesting near penguin colonies to forage there.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-34
Number of pages8
JournalWilson's Bulletin
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1994
Externally publishedYes


Cite this