United Kingdom

Deployment sites: Georgia Island, Weddell Antarctic coast, Amundsen bay

Supporting institutions: Natural Environment Research Council (UK)

Actors: Mike Fedak, Lars Boehme and Phil Lovell (SMRU, University of St Andrews), Mike Meredith and Keith Nicholls (British Antarctic Survey), Karen Heywood (University of East Anglia)

Our project grew from the desire for better understanding the physical environment in the Atlantic part of the Southern Ocean and to improve our knowledge of the behaviour and habits of pinnipeds roaming the sub-polar and polar seas. We started with the SEaOS (Southern Elephant seals as Oceanographic Samplers) , which was followed by the SAVEX (South Atlantic Variability EXperiment) project, which formed the UK portion of the international MEOP program during the last International Polar Year to generate cross-disciplinary understanding of polar ecosystems. Both projects involved Southern elephant seals which were tagged on South Georgia (2004, 2005, 2008, and 2009) and the Falkland Islands (2010). We also focused our efforts on the Antarctic shelf in the Weddell (2007, 2009 and 2011) and Amundsen Seas (2014) by tagging Southern elephant seals and Weddell seals.


Mike Fedak is interested in the interactions between foraging behaviour, diving physiology and reproductive success. He started to work on southern elephant seals in the 80s and brought forward the use of telemetry and remote sensing to study marine mammals at sea. He established and supervises a team of biologists and engineers that developed a system of satellite (and now mobile phone) relayed data loggers and associated software that has revolutionised research on marine mammals and other large marine predators.

Lars Boehme is investigating the sensitivity of top predators to global and regional-scale climate variability. To achieve this, we have to overcome the problems of different scales in behavioural, biological and physical data and Lars promotes new sensor developments, minimising the effect of attaching instruments to marine mammals and develops methods to ensure high data quality from animal-borne instruments. He was part of the SEaOS project, ran the SAVEX project and was part of most other UK led projects.


Mike Meredith is the leader of the Polar Oceans research programme at the British Antarctic Survey and is interested in the response of the oceans around Antarctica to large-scale climate variability and in the interannual-to-decadal variability in Southern Ocean water mass properties, circulation and fluxes. Mike has in-depth experience of ship-based physical oceanography, and has used bottom pressure data, acoustic measurements, and hydrography to investigate the transport variability of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current. He too was part of the SEaOS and SAVEX projects.

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