● Penguin couple stayed together for 16 years, smashing all previous records
● New research shows incredible loyalty in spite of the epic distances travelled by the bird
As the UK divorce rate continues to soar, a new study has today shown how marital harmony is thriving in the penguin world.
Research has revealed a pair of Magellanic penguins as among the most faithful in the animal kingdom.
The couple have remained loyal to each other over a 16-year period, in spite of spending thousands of miles apart during their winter trips.
The findings come after a 30-year study of the breed where researchers placed metal identity bands on the flippers of 50,000 birds on the southern coast of Argentina.
Previously penguin relationships were believed to span a maximum of just 10 years, with many cut short by the unexpected death of birds during migration.
‘Divorce’ is also a possibility as couples who fail to hatch chicks will split up and find new mates.
But according to The Sunday Telegraph, biologists have been surprised by the longevity of the relationship between a particular couple.
‘The bond they have is incredible really,’ lead researcher Dr Pablo Garcia Borboroglu, of the National Research Council of Argentina, told the newspaper.
‘It is unbelievable how far Magellanic penguins swim – and each breeding season they come back to the same nest and to the same partner.’
The research was revealed during a lecture to the Whitley Fund for Nature in London, and Dr Borboroglu will set out his findings in a book to be published next year called Penguins: Natural History and Conservation.
Magellanic penguins can only be found around the Falkland Islands and South America.
Argentina has the highest population, with 900,000 breeding pairs in Argentina, while there are 800,000 couples in Chile.
But their numbers have dropped dramatically since the turn of the century due to oil pollution and falling fish numbers and there are thought to be around 1.2 million left in the world.
Dr Borboroglu’s project also used satellite tracking to identify the movements of the birds, showing the enormous journeys they travel each winter to the warmer waters of Brazil.
Every year, the penguins arrive at their summer nests in the southern hemisphere and find their partners using a distinctive call.
After reuniting and mating, the female usually lay two eggs, which each partner takes turns guarding while the other goes out to sea.
After they hatch, the parents spend a month caring for their young before heading off to their wintering area.
The penguins join a roll call of other animals that undertake loyal relationships, including the albatross, French angelfish and black vultures.[source : http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2234755/Magellanic-penguins-return-mate-solo-journeys-totalling-200-000-miles.html]