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Digital Images

Humboldt Penguins

Thermal Vision Research


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About this work


The penguins have been visualised using thermal infrared which allows us to see thermal energy or radiation more commonly referred to as heat. Thermal Infrared is found within the Infrared region on the electromagnetic spectrum. The different colours in the images represent different levels of thermal energy being emitted from an object. The imaging technology has been successfully used in animal studies to observe thermoregulation, their environment and behaviour, their population and habitat. Here a group of penguins can be seen. Some emit more thermal radiation than others, this could be due to some having been swimming and therefore being wet from the water. Penguins also have what researchers call a 'cold coat' as usually the surface of their feathers are colder than the surrounding air. Although penguins can maintain a core temperature of around 36.9 degrees Celsius they will still lose heat to the surrounding air as a result of thermal radiation, when heat from their bodies transfers to the colder air. However, with their 'cold coat’ they gain back a little heat from the air around them which does reduce thermal radiation.


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