The map below will take you on a benthic tour as you "fly" through the fragile ecosystems living at the bottom of the Southern Ocean. After the tour, use the map to explore the Antarctic ecosystem region studied by the AERD and US AMLR researchers. Browse at your leisure as you....
.... learn more about the animals that live there and how the AERD studies those animals by clicking on the colored areas
.... follow the links in pop-up boxes to learn more details
.... turn data layers on and off (descriptions of data layers are further down on this page, below the map)
.... follow the overwinter movement patterns of Antarctic predators during the 2010 austral winter
.... follow the overwinter movement patterns of Antarctic predators during the 2011 austral winter
If you'd like more in-depth information about any of these topics, ask one of our scientists for a paper from our publications
Antarctic ecosystems studied by the US AMLR Program
US AMLR Survey Stations
The US Antarctic Marine Living Resources (AMLR) Program stops at over 100 stations each year around the South Shetland Islands. At each of these stations, researchers collect data ranging from water temperature and salinity to primary poductivity and zooplankton community composition. While transiting from station to station, acoustic data is collected, which allows scientists to accurately estimate the total biomass of commercially utilized Antarctic krill.
US AMLR Field Stations
The US AMLR Program maintains two field stations in the South Shetland Islands, which are staffed by scientists for approximately six months each year. At these stations, scientists collect data on the health of Antarctic predator populations, including three species of penguin and four pinniped species. The data collected are used to determine whether predator populations are adversely affected by current fishing practices; this information is submitted to CCAMLR.
US AMLR Research Areas
The South Shetland Islands are divided into four research areas, each representing a different confluence of currents and weather. The West and Elephant Island Areas, the outermost areas, both cover a part of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC), a relatively warm current that flows around Antarctica. While the West Area is primarily over the Antarctic shelf, about half of the Elephant Island Area lies over the pelagic Southern Ocean. The South Area covers the Bransfield Strait, an area sheltered by the South Shetland Islands from the rough weather originating in the Pacific Ocean. The Joinville Island Area is our southernmost area, extending into the Weddell Sea, which is frozen for most of the year.
CCAMLR, the international body that regulates fishing activities in Antarctica, uses subareas in the Southern Ocean to effectively manage a large area.
CCAMLR developed Small Scale Management Units (SSMUs) to improve their ability distribute krill catch in areas near penguin colonies and pinniped breeding sites, where these animals are often found foraging, while continuing to allow fishing activities.