Tracking Penguin Poop From Space
This was just too interesting at first glance to ignore when it whizzed into my Google reader.
British scientists studying emperor penguin colonies in Antartica have come up with a clever way of spotting the birds from space. Apparently, the penguins themselves are difficult to make out in satellite imagery, but the places on the ice that they call home for months at a time eventually get pretty dirty. Penguin poop can be seen from space!
"We can't see actual penguins on the satellite maps because the resolution isn't good enough," said mapping expert Peter Fretwell. "But during the breeding season the birds stay at a colony for eight months. The ice gets pretty dirty and it's the guano stains that we can see."
These guys are prety excited about poop. It has helped them locate 10 new colonies of penguins. Now that they know where the penguins are, they can get to the more difficult task of counting the birds in order to track population movements and changes over time. Amazing what you can do with satellites, isn't it?