Flipper banding has long been the primary method to identify individual penguins, despite studies indicating that it may be detrimental to breeding success and survival. Our objectives were to measure the effects that flipper bands may have on diving performance of little penguins to determine whether the bands may be detrimental. We studied short- and long-term direct effects of flipper banding on diving behavior of free-ranging little penguins (Eudyptula minor) by comparing diving behavior before and after banding and by comparing diving performance of unbanded birds to those that had carried flipper bands for several years, respectively. Recently banded birds displayed increases in multiple variables following banding. Long-term banded penguins did not exhibit differences to their unbanded counterparts in most variables examined. Our findings are useful to those considering or reviewing the use of bands in penguin study and management.
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Vol. 73 • No. 8