Page last updated at 07:20 GMT, Wednesday, 7 October 2009 08:20 UK

Albatross cam for bird's eye view

Albatrosses (BAS)
The birds were captured hunting alongside killer whales

Small cameras strapped to four albatrosses in the southern Atlantic Ocean have shed light on the birds' feeding patterns.

Still pictures from the cameras show the birds foraging in groups before returning to feed their chicks.

The albatrosses were also seen to hunt alongside killer whales, an approach likely adopted because the whales drive prey fish toward the surface.

The research is published in the open-access journal PLoS ONE.

Four black-browed albatrosses(Thalassarche melanophyrs) from the aptly-named Bird Island off the coast of South Georgia island were fitted with digital cameras about the size of a lipstick.

The images were recovered when the birds returned to their breeding grounds after their trips to sea to forage.

"These images are really interesting," said Richard Phillips of the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), which collaborated with Japan's National Institute of Polar Research and Hokkaido University on the project.

"They show us that albatrosses associate with marine mammals in the same way as tropical seabirds often do with tuna. In both cases the prey - usually fish - are directed to the surface and then it's easy hunting for the birds."

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