Where in the ocean is Happy Feet?

KIRAN CHUG
Last updated 15:42 12/09/2011
Happy Feet
NIWA

DIVE IN: Emperor penguin Happy Feet slides off the back of the Tangaroa and into the Southern Ocean.

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Happy Feet could be lost forever.

The transmitter attached to the wayward emperor penguin before his release at the start of the month appears to have stopped transmitting.

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.

Our Far South, the company helping to use the tracking data to come up with locations, has not received a transmission since September 9.

Now, Sirtrack, the satellite tracking company behind Happy Feet's transmitter, believed he could have been eaten by a bigger animal.

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.

It was initially thought that solar flares could be disrupting the signal, Our Far South said initially.

"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 transmit to start working again.

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

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- The Dominion Post

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