Major Antarctic study to begin next year

December 7, 2005

Sixty-two Australian researchers will spend 10 weeks next year sampling and surveying the Southern Ocean, which surrounds Antarctica.

The scientists -- from the Australian Antarctic Division and the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Center -- will, among other tasks, estimate the number of krill in the ocean and compare visual observations of whales with acoustical observations, said study leader Steve Nicol.

"So when all this is finished we will have a third of the Antarctic surveyed and we'll have a complete picture of everything from the oceanography right the way through to the whales, (giving) us a really good idea of how the entire system works," he told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

Krill researcher Dr. Toby Jarvis said the tiny shrimp-like crustaceans are a vital food source in the Southern Ocean, but the number and distribution of krill is not known.

An echo sounder trailed behind the expedition's ship will be used to collect information, rather than towing a net.

"Krill provide sound echoes and it gives us a way of measuring with a much higher degree of resolution, where these krill are and how many there are," Jarvis told the ABC.

Copyright 2005 by United Press International

Explore further: Climate is changing fast in West Antarctica

Related Stories

Climate is changing fast in West Antarctica

November 23, 2015

When the ship pulls up at Palmer Station each Antarctic spring, the arriving scientists glance up at the massive glacier that covers most of Anvers Island. It has been retreating about 7 meters per year, and this year is ...

Antarctica's wildlife in a changing climate

October 27, 2015

Despite being one of the coldest, most inhospitable places on Earth, Antarctica hosts a wealth of biodiversity, and its remoteness and extreme climate have lent a certain amount of protection to the many species that call ...

Vast Antarctic marine reserves in focus at Australia talks

October 19, 2015

Campaigners Monday urged global leaders to put aside differences and create two vast Antarctic marine sanctuaries to protect one of the world's last untouched wildernesses and a unique array of species including whales and ...

Researchers identify new NZ fossil whale species

September 11, 2015

University of Otago palaeontology researchers are continuing to rewrite the history of New Zealand's ancient whales by describing two further genera and three species of fossil baleen whales.

Antarctic krill help to fertilize Southern Ocean with iron

July 4, 2011

A new discovery reveals that the shrimp-like creature at the heart of the Antarctic food chain could play a key role in fertilising the Southern Ocean with iron – stimulating the growth of phytoplankton (microscopic ...

Antarctic krill provide carbon sink in Southern Ocean

February 6, 2006

New research on Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba), a shrimp-like animal at the heart of the Southern Ocean food chain, reveals behaviour that shows that they absorb and transfer more carbon from the Earth’s surface than ...

Recommended for you


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.