Antarctic voyage studies smallest Southern Ocean animals

Two scientists, Tokyo University's Dr Masato Moteki and Australian Antarctic Division's Dr So Kawaguchi, on the dock next to the Japanese ship the Umitaka Maru
Tokyo University's Dr Masato Moteki and Australian Antarctic Division's Dr So Kawaguchi, next to the Japanese research ship the Umitaka Maru which is docked in Hobart (Photo: Glenn Jacobson)
The Japanese research ship Umitaka Maru, from the Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology, docked in HobartMicroscope picture of Antarctic zooplankton (Calanus propinquus) that were used in the incubation experiments on board the research ship.  A micrscope image of Antarctic zooplankton (Rhincalanus gigas) that were used in the incubation experiments.

Japanese scientists working in collaboration with the Australian Antarctic Program have arrived in Hobart after completing a research voyage in the Southern Ocean.

The Japanese research ship Umitaka Maru, from the Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology, has been surveying the Southern Ocean and investigating the role of zooplankton in the Antarctic food web.

Zooplankton are microscopic animals that float in the ocean and provide food for larger marine creatures such as krill, fish, whales and penguins.

Australian Antarctic Division scientist, Dr So Kawaguchi, said two students from Tasmania's Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies were part of the voyage and assisted with data collection.

“The students conducted incubation experiments on zooplankton, to find out what they eat and how much, over a period of time,” Dr Kawaguchi said.

“This information will then help us predict how food webs will be impacted by environmental change in the future.

“There has been a long standing collaboration between Australian and Japanese Antarctic scientists and a voyage like this provides an important opportunity to work together on significant research questions.”

The Umitaka Maru ship spent 3 weeks working in the Southern Ocean and will depart Hobart for Tokyo on Saturday.