Current U.S. AMLR Field Season

2015-16: U.S. AMLR's 30th field season working in the peninsula!


The Drake Side
Studying penguins, fur seals and more at Cape Shirreff

After a few travel challenges, the 2015 Cape Shirreff opening crew arrived in Punta Arenas, Chile on the 17th & 18th of October to begin the 2015/16 field season at the AMLR field station on Livingston Island.  AMLR researchers departed Punta Arenas for the Antarctic aboard the R/V Laurence M. Gould on 22 October.  Fortunately, a lull between low pressure systems allowed for relatively mild sea conditions while crossing Drake’s Passage. We arrived at Cape Shirreff on the morning of Monday 26 October.  Studies at the Cape will continue through until early March 2016.

Weekly reports are posted below.  

Weekly Sit Reps from Cape Shirreff study site
CS Sit Rep 1: Nov 2, 2015
CS Sit Rep 2: Nov 9, 2015
CS Sit Rep 3: Nov 16, 2015
CS Sit Rep 4: Nov 23, 2015
CS Sit Rep 5: Nov 30, 2015
CS Sit Rep 6: Dec 7, 2015
CS Sit Rep 7: Dec 15, 2015
CS Sit Rep 8: Dec 21, 2015
CS Sit Rep 9: Dec 28, 2015
CS Sit Rep 10: Jan 4, 2016
CS Sit Rep 11: Jan 11, 2016
CS Sit Rep 12: Jan 18, 2016
CS Sit Rep 13: Jan 25, 2016
CS Sit Rep 14: Feb 1, 2016 
CS Sit Rep 15: Feb 8, 2016
CS Sit Rep 16: Feb 15, 2016
CS Sit Rep 17: Feb 22, 2016 
CS Sit Rep 18: Feb 29, 2016                                                  
CS Sit Rep 19: Mar 07, 2016                  
CS Sit Rep 20: Mar 14, 2016
CS Sit Rep 21: Mar 19, 2016

Coming in fall 2016 - another U.S. AMLR Program winter vessel survey 

Stay tuned - we will head south on another winter adventure and will share details with you here as we finalize our plans.

Weekly Sit Reps from RVIB Palmer
WAMLR Sit Rep 1: TBD WAMLR Sit Rep 2: TBD WAMLR Sit Rep 3: TBD
WAMLR Sit Rep 4: TBD

Where the Wild Krill Are
International collaboration to investigate krill hot-spots

AMLR researcher Christian Reiss has teamed with scientists from the British Antarctic Survey, Norway’s Institute of Marine Research, the Norwegian Polar Institute, Portugal’s University of Aveiro, and the University of Washington (USA), along with the Norwegian fishing fleet, to investigate krill distribution patterns and flux around the South Orkney Islands during the 2016 austral summer (January and February). The team will specifically focus on krill hotspots (large swarms of krill) as they investigate the sources of krill, including the role of the ice-edge, the flux of krill in and out of these hotspots, and how predators and the fishery exploit the swarms. Results from this project will contribute to our understanding of Antarctic krill and the Southern Ocean ecosystem, ultimately allowing CCAMLR to make informed decisions on how best to manage this vital resource. More information on the project can be found here.

While on board the RRS James Clark Ross, Christian will provide analysis of the continuous underway ADCP plus two moored ADCPs. He will also provide analysis of oceanographic data (water column temperature, salinity and chlorophyll) to provide context for the interpretation of the data collected.

Got Birds?
Copacabana does!

The Copacabana site was opened on Friday, January 8th.  Camp had been unoccupied for roughly one year prior to our arrival, but all power, heat, lighting, water, appliances and two-way radio communication systems were quickly returned to operational status upon arrival.  No major damage to the camp was apparent and all outbuildings, storm shutters, stored equipment, and food supplies were in good condition.  For more details, read the sit reps (see table below) sent in from the island.

Weekly Sit Reps from Copacabana study site
Copa Sit Rep 1: January 10, 2016
Copa Sit Rep 2: January 17, 2016
Copa Sit Rep 3: January 24, 2016

Who am I?
Identifying Orcinus Orca in the peninsulaPhoto by Bob Pitman. Orcinus Orca, Rothera, January 2009

In collaboration with the MMTD, Bob Pitman heads to Antarctica early February to participate as an invited scientist aboard the tour vessel National Geographic Explorer. He will be aboard for a month, with the work divided into two legs. Sailing from Ushuaia, Argentina, the first leg is a 10-day trip to the Western Antarctic Peninsula (WAP) and back; the second leg is a 20-day trip that also includes the Falkland Islands and South Georgia. While on board, Bob will look for a top marine predator, the killer whale Orcinus Orca.  Normally, when he finds them, the ship diverts to allow the passengers to view the whales, and then after about an hour or so, Bob and his assistants will deploy in a small boat to photograph, biopsy sample, and satellite tag individual whales. Through this effort, the research team has acquired over 60,000 images of four different ecotypes of killer whales from the Scotia Sea/Antarctic Peninsula area and scores of biopsy samples.  Additionally, they have tagged over 75 killer whales and five Antarctic minke whales to date. Bob and his colleagues are just beginning to organize a photo-identification catalog for WAP killer whales, which will allow the research team to make population estimates for the three main types of killer whales that occur there (types A, big B and little B). This year, they purchased a UAS with grant funding, and MMTD colleague John Durban is currently on the Explorer taking aerial photographs of killer whales (and minkes and humpbacks!) to determine body lengths (for killer whale taxonomy studies), as well as health and body condition (as determined by length/weight ratio). This is the sixth year of research on board the Explorer, sponsored by the National Geographic Society and Lindblad Expeditions in grants made available to Bob Pitman, John Durban and Holly Fearnbach.

Time for One More?

AERD researcher Doug Krause is heading south for one more trip!  This time he will spend a couple weeks aboard the Australis, a steel-hulled, fully-rigged motor sailor vessel.  Stay tuned for an update and final summary!

Last modified: 4/7/2016