Seals tagged with satellite trackers may reveal secrets of Antarctic waters.

The dissection of the giant colossal squid in New Zealand has really highlighted how many amazing wonders there are still be discovered in the depths of these oceans. In fact, yesterday a team of University of Tasmania researchers left on research voyage, part of the global Marine Mammal Exploration of the Oceans Pole to Pole (MEOP) program.

They aim to use satellites to tag a series of Weddell seals in Antarctica as part of an international program to learn more about the foraging patterns of the species. The also hope to collect invaluable oceanographic data that is usually inaccessible to scientists. Weddell seals are the most southerly mammal in the world.

State-of the-art satellite trackers will be glued to the head of the seal and will collect data for the next eight to nine months on the seals’ movement patterns, behaviour and habitat utilisation, before the tags drop off during the moulting season.

Dr Hindell, from the school of zoology says Weddell seals travel much further south than other seals so it is a unique opportunity to explore deep into the south. Weddell seals are also known to dive in ice-filled waters to depths in excess of 800m, so the tags will also provide ongoing and extensive oceanographic information that is normally inaccessible to researchers because of the logistics and costs involved, Dr Hindell said.

There is so much we don’t know about these dark waters. Jellyfish with six-metre long tentacles, huge worms, giant crustaceans, giant sea creatures, including sea spiders the size of dinner plates have been found by scientists in the deep waters around Antarctica. Who knows what this project might find.

PHOTO OF THE DAY: Weddell seals in Antarctica, the most southerly mammal in the world.

December 28, 2004.\

Photograph by: James Hebrlee, National Science Foundation. Date Taken: December 28, 2004.

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~ by abstraktbiblos on Thursday, 1 May, 2008.

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