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The seven-week science voyage to East Antarctica on RV Investigator has been a major success.
Searching 200,000km2 of the Southern Ocean, scientists found Antarctic blue whales by following their calls.
More than 250 underwater listening devices were deployed, capturing over 750 hours of underwater recordings.
More than 300 hours of search effort were logged.
36 blue whales were encountered, and 25 individually identified.
This voyage was the first to also focus on the whales’ primary food source, Antarctic krill.
For the first time on an Australian research vessel, echo sounders built 3D pictures of giant krill swarms.
Several swarms extended over 1 kilometre in length and hundreds of metres across.
Scientists want to learn if iron-rich whale poo fertilises the ocean and helps grow more krill.
For the first time in the Southern Ocean, drones were used to take surface water samples.
Near icebergs where the ship couldn’t reach, drone missions dipped jars into the sea to collect water.
Vast amounts of other data about water chemistry were collected.
Every piece of the puzzle is important to better understand the ecology of the Southern Ocean.
Production: Mark Horstman, Simon Payne.
Vision: Alex Vail, James Cox.
This research is supported by a grant of sea time on RV Investigator from the CSIRO Marine National Facility.