We’ve talked about deep-diving seals here before. Now it appears oceanography is being outsourced to Antarctica. Grad students beware, seals are the latest species to steal deep-sea jobs away from hard-working americans! The Sunday Times UK reports:
“SCIENTISTS are uncovering the deepest secrets of the freezing Antarctic waters by enlisting elephant seals to carry probes to places never before reached by humans.
The seals’ diving ability is being used to collect data from far beneath the ice shelves of the Antarctic coastlines as well as from the open sea.
The creatures can reach depths of 6,500ft, so revealing information about the ocean’s greatest mysteries. Scientists from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and St Andrews University attached miniaturised sensors to about 80 seals, then proceeded to track them.
“The sensors are so good that they can record water temperature, salinity and pressure – even tell us what the animal was doing,” said Iain Staniland, a seal and penguin expert at BAS.
“The Southern Ocean is the hardest place in the world to obtain oceanographic data, especially during the winter,” said Mike Meredith, head of the atmosphere and ocean group at BAS. “The seals collected data from deep seas we couldn’t ordinarily access due to remoteness and harsh environments.”