One of our project members, Dr. Elisa Seyboth, has participated in the research cruise performed by GOAL (Grupo de Oceanografia de Altas Latitudes, High Latitude Oceanography Group), from Brazil. This was part of the activities of the EcoPelagos (Respostas do ecossitema pelagico àsmudanças climáticas no Oceano Austral, Responses of the pelagic ecosystem to climate change in the Southern Ocean) project, which is a partner of Whales and Climate Research Program.
The main aim of the cruise was do get data and samples of different trophic levels for the investigation of trophic connections and variabilities in the study area during Austral summer. The study area encompass the area around the Antarctic Peninsula, including Bransfield and Gerlache Straits, and the area from the tip of the Peninsula to the South Orkney Islands. The data will be related to oceanographic data (in and ex situ) for the investigation of the influence of environmental variables (as sea surface temperature, chlorophyll-a concentration, depth) and for water sampling so phytoplankton could be samples by filtering the water and zooplankton sampling in some of the stations.
During the transit of the Polar Ship Almirante Maximiano, used for the cruise, line transect methodology were followed for the monitoring of cetacean species in the area. From each group sighted, data on date, time, position, environmental conditions, depth, species, number of individuals, angle to the bow of the ship, and number of reticles from the horizon were recorded. This data will be analysed for the estimation of species density and abundance in the area and for the investigation of their distribution and habitat use.
In total, 383 sightings were recorded, including groups of humpback whale (n=198), fin whale (n=54), minke whale (n=1), Southern right whale (n=1) e killer whale (n=1). For some sightings it was not possible to determine the species (n=128).
Credit to Dr Elisa Seyboth.