Tools & Technology: Flipper Tags
Photo by Viola Toniolo. http://www.penguinscience.com/
One of the first tools used to study penguin populations, flipper tags are close-fitting metal identification bracelets that scientists attach to a penguin's flipper. The tag doesn't hurt the penguin. Each tag is engraved with an identifying number that can be read at close range as the penguin sits on its nest or waddles around the colony.
Biologists tag chicks and adults in one year. By noting tag numbers in following years, they can learn how long wild penguins live, the chances of survival for young birds and adults, and how much the birds move around. These observations can be combined in a mathematical model to estimate the overall population size.
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