Hello from Antarctica!
Our research team is currently on Ross Island, Antarctica for the third year of a three year study on Weddell seal navigation. These incredible seals spend most of their time under the ice surface foraging for fish and various marine invertebrates. In between hunting dives, however, they must return to the surface to breathe through holes and cracks in the ice. This usually involves navigating their way back to the ice hole they left, from hundreds of meters below the surface and in almost complete darkness during the winter!
Through funding from the National Science Foundation, we are at McMurdo Station which gives us close access to the sea ice off Ross Island. While here we will use specially designed video recorders and 3 dimensional accelerometers to study how they move under the ice in relation to the local magnetic field. Additionally, this year we will be using flow-through respirometry to measure how much oxygen they are using while diving in such extreme conditions.
You can see what the United States Antarctic Program said about our work in The Antarctic Sun, and check back here for weekly updates on how our season is progressing as we find seals to help us in our work!