Tracking Magellanic Penguins

Dee Boersma | Turbo

University of Washington

This project was funded on:
24 December 2012
The Penguin Project has been studying the largest colony of Magellanic penguins in the world at Punta Tombo, Argentina for almost 30 years. We are trying to determine how environmental variation from natural and human sources impacts penguins.

What are the goals of this project?

We are addressing how environmental variation from natural and human sources impacts penguins. We’ve been using satellite tags for years and now we’re moving to a newer GPS technology that gives us better information.

Why is this research important?

Data of how penguins use the ocean can inform where marine protected areas are located, where shipping lanes should be located, and where there are likely to be conflicts with fishing, oil pollution, and development. Managing for these threats will help protect penguins and other marine species.

How will the funds be used?

Penguins are amazing but to find out the secrets of their life we need to know where they go and what they are doing. By funding satellite tags and GPS tags, we can learn a lot, like where penguins forage and whether where they go changes over the years by their age or by the number of chicks they rear.


Budget Overview

Penguins are amazing, but to find out the secrets of their life, we need to know where they go and what they are doing. By funding satellite tags and GPS tags, we can learn a lot. We can see where penguins go to forage and whether this changes based on age or the number of chicks they rear.

Meet the Researcher


Boersma's academic research is in the area of conservation biology and has focused on seabirds as indicators of environmental change.

Dr. Boersma is the Wadsworth Endowed Chair in Conservation Science in the University of Washington's department of Biology. She has been at the University of Washington since 1974, initially as professor of Zoology and then as professor of Biology following the merger of the Zoology, Biology and Botany departments. She was Acting Chair of the Biology department from 2005 to 2006 and is an adjunct faculty member in the Women Studies department.

Since 1982, she has directed the Magellanic Penguin Project at Punta Tombo, Argentina, in her role as a scientific fellow for the Wildlife Conservation Society. Since then, she has carried out research on Magellanic penguins in the South Atlantic, assessing their biological characteristics and the effects of human perturbations and policy changes on their survival.

Dr. Boersma has also been enlisted to take on numerous national and international leadership and advisory positions in such diverse roles as member of the Board of Trustees of Central Michigan University, as an advisor to the United States Delegation to the United Nations World Population Conference in Romania, as a member of President Nixon's Task Force of Women's Rights and Responsibilities, and as a member of the Board of Directors of Zero Population Growth. In addition, Professor Boersma was associate director of the Institute for Environmental Studies from 1987-1993.

Relevant publications:

Ramos da Silvia, R, J Pereira, CAS Tanajura, CAD Lentini, M Cirano, PD Boersma , and RR Rodrigues. Occurrence of Magellanic Penguins along the Northeast Brazilian Coast during 2008 Austral Winter. The Scientific World Journal. Volume 2012.

Discover more about Penguin Sentinels here!

Project Backers

RobynwcappadociusCindy WuntommarelloDenny LuanChristeanaSeana DavidsonAlexKablickenstaffoldbuckLuanCharlie MoseleymbillyEstellaLeopoldmichellenatorUsurerJohnsonHorDooleycecilianem
Project backers