Penguins With a “Same Time Next Year” Relationship

Illustration for article titled Penguins With a “Same Time Next Year” Relationship

Southern rockhopper penguins mate for life, but when biologists used light-based geolocators to track their behavior they found that pairs only spent about 20 to 30 days together each year–just enough time to mate and lay eggs.

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The birds checked in with each other at night during the 2 months they were raising a chick, but they spent the rest of the year foraging, separated by hundreds of miles of open ocean.

They’re not trying to avoid one another: The data showed that mated pairs hunted in the same area throughout the winter months. But females leave the breeding grounds a week sooner and return a week later than males. Since the ocean is vast, they’re unlikely to run into one another out there. Easier to meet back at the nest, next year.

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[Thiebot et al. 2015]

Image by Liam Quinn via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0


Contact the author at diane@io9.com.

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DISCUSSION

frankurd
Arggh! there goes a...snake a snake!

I often wonder if humans are naturally not meant to be monogamous but it’s something we have imposed on ourselves through societal norms.