Is Happy Feet a Happy Meal?

04:40, Sep 12 2011

The transmitter attached to Happy Feet before his release appears to have stopped transmitting.

The satellite tracking company behind Happy Feet's transmitter believe he could have been eaten by a bigger animal.


View Happy Feet's departure in a larger map

Kevin Lay, a wildlife telemetry consultant at Sirtrack said it was the possibility that no-one wanted to think about, but Happy Feet could have become another creature's meal.

"That's what makes the world go round."

He said it was also possible the transmitter had fallen off, as this was not uncommon when using transmitters to track penguins.

The transmitter had been sending back tracking information which showed he had travelled south and then east of his drop off location at 51 degrees south.

He was dropped into the sea earlier this month after being taken south by the research vessel Tangaroa.

Our Far South, the company helping to use the tracking data to come up with locations, has not received a transmission since Friday.

It was initially thought solar flares could be disrupting the signal.

However, the company now believes the most likely scenario is that the transmitter has fallen off.

"After all it was only glued on and would have had to survive extreme conditions.

It will be at least a couple of days before we know for sure that the transmitter is no longer working."

Other possibilities included transmitter damage or technical failure.

The company was still hoping to be pleasantly surprised and for the transmitter to start working again.

"But if we don't get further readings then we'll have to hope for the best."

Wellington Zoo vet Lisa Argilla cared for the emperor penguin for two months before he was released.


View Happy Feet's departure in a larger map

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