2015-16: U.S. AMLR's 30th field season working in the peninsula!
The U.S. AMLR Program winter vessel survey is underway!
- Follow the vessel movements during the survey
- Follow along as PEW researcher Ryan Dolan
photographs his journey as part of our team.
Week of August 23.... Stay tuned! The vessel is heading to port!
Week of August 14-22:
Over the last week, we
have moved sampling to the west Shelf which was covered in new ice, mostly
pancake that formed over the last two weeks. Temperature continued to normalize
and has ranged from -5 to -14 degrees. We completed most stations on the west
shelf, and completed most of the stations north of Elephant Island. However,
over the last 10 days multi-year ice from the Weddell Sea has entered the
northeast area of Bransfield Strait, near Joinville Island. The ice floes are
larger than islands, and have precluded our sampling in that area.
Krill larvae were
found mostly over Elephant Island and the West Shelf, rather than within
Bransfield Strait. Other species of note include Euphausia triacantha, Euphausia
frigida, and Thysanoessa macrura.
We still have not observed any large numbers of seals on the West Shelf or
around the northern part of Elephant Island.
of krill biomass from acoustic surveys showed biomass ranged from ~500000 (CV
72%) tons on the west shelf, to more than 2.9 million (CV 55%) tons in Bransfield Strait. Most
biomass on the west shelf was found near shore running along the shelf. Simple
biomass estimates (area X mean density) of krill within Bays in Gerlache Strait
were, 181.0, 54,400.0, and 203,213.0 for Andvoord, Whilimena, and Hughes Bay,
Given the movement of ice into the area, we have
had to re structure the last week of sampling. With the remaining time, we will
now resample Bransfield Strait using acoustics and we will turn on the ADCP to
give us information on the currents. This will also provide us with a dataset
to examine noise removal algorithms and their effects on krill acoustic biomass
Week of August 7-13: Conditions have been variable, with
short intense storms and winds in excess of 50 knots. These have slowed
the cruise somewhat as we waited for conditions to improve. Winds have
shifted from predominately westerly to southerly, dropping the
temperatures from a balmy -2, to -12, and increasing winds from 5 knots
to over 50. Regardless we have completed sampling within the Gerlache
and Bransfield Straits. Additionally we have been able to calibrate the
echosounders; this will be needed to calculate biomass estimates for the
ice free areas. Within Bransfield Strait, the lack of ice has kept
Crabeater seal abundance very low, while Antarctic fur seals are hauling
out on the ice and snow free beaches rather than staying in the water.
Krill concentrations within Bransfield Strait were similar to the
patterns observed in previous years, but the lack of ice means that the
amount of usable data for the acoustic estimates is much larger. On
several transects across the Bransfield, krill biomass formed a nearly
continuous band (more than forty miles) with distinctly different
patterns of aggregation between daytime (compact dense swarms, 40 to
400m) and night time (broader patches between 0 and 200 meters).
Collection of krill, other euphausiids, and Antarctic zooplankton
continued throughout the area; these specimens will be used for
condition measures, metabolic and genetic analyses.
Conditions are expected to deteriorate over the next two days in the
Elephant Island region, and we will shift our survey to the West shelf
area, where conditions are expected to be more favorable.
Week of August 1-6: The US AMLR research team assembled in Punta
Arenas, Chile, to commence the fifth and final winter survey to the
South Shetland Islands, Antarctic Peninsula. Members of the Antarctic
Ecosystem Research Division, along with contractors, students, academic
partners, NGOs, and other international collaborators, loaded the ship
and set up the laboratories on the RVIB Nathaniel Palmer.
The vessel left port on August 4th; conditions were mild with air
temperatures in excess of 4º Celsius as they transited east through the
Strait of Magellan, and south towards the Drake Passage. Conditions
entering the Drake were also unseasonably mild (!), with temperatures
above freezing for most of the crossing, and a northerly wind that
ranged from 20 to 40 knots. During the Drake crossing, expendable
bathythermographs (aka XBTs) were dropped every 15 nautical miles (nmi),
and drifters were deployed every degree of latitude. Two mid-Drake
oceanographic stations (conductivity, temperature, depth measurements,
aka CTDs) were completed to collect water for ongoing studies, and to
ensure that all systems were functional. We are presently 40 nmi from
our first station on the AMLR grid, and we expect to start sampling in
earnest mid afternoon of August 7th.
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
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
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.
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.
Who am I?
Identifying Orcinus Orca in the peninsula
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.