NOAA tracks winter journeys of seals and penguins in Antarctica

May 11, 2010

Scientists from NOAA's Southwest Fisheries Science Center placed 61 satellite tags on fur seals, leopard seals, Weddell seals, chinstrap penguins and gentoo penguins that will allow researchers and the public to track the movements of these animals over the austral winter, which takes place during our summer.

"We typically observe these animals during the austral summer, but have little information of where they go during the winter when and ice make it impossible for us to visually monitor them," said George Watters, Director of the Antarctic Ecosystem Research Division at the Southwest Fisheries Science Center. "We are very pleased the public can watch along with us as we follow these animals' journeys."

The animals' progress will be mapped weekly at: http://swfsc.noaa.gov/AntarcticPredators/ as part of the Antarctic Marine Living Resources research program designed to support of U.S. Antarctic policy and fisheries management around Antarctica.

Each year, NOAA's Antarctic Ecosystem Research Division (AERD) monitors the Antarctic ecosystem including its predators during the months of October through March, which is summertime in the southern latitudes. This year researchers stayed at Cape Sheriff on Livingston Island, where the satellite tagging was conducted, and at Copacabana on King George Island; a ship-based research survey was also conducted in the region.

Websites with photographs of the research camps, the types of animals tagged and the link to see their movements can be found at the end of this release.

The AERD has conducted ecosystem-based research since the 1980s in support of the international Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources. The convention was signed in 1982, after many Antarctic populations were decimated by unmanaged exploitation.

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