The ‘predator observers’ currently working with Australian Antarctic Program krill scientists on board CSIRO’s RV Investigator, in the Southern Ocean off East Antarctica, are usually up against wind, cloud, fog, snow storms and choppy seas.
But unless there are six-metre waves and winds above 30 knots, the six-person team are on deck with their binoculars, recording all the whales, seals and seabirds they sight over 12 daylight hours.
In a three-week period after the voyage departed Hobart on 29 January, the team recorded 445 sightings of marine mammals, including Antarctic blue, fin, sei, sperm, humpback, Antarctic minke, killer, and pilot whales, as well as crabeater and fur seals. On one day in late February, they recorded a whale every two minutes!
Their observations will be correlated with krill distribution and density to better understand the relationship between krill and their predators. (Learn more in our ‘Krill Matters’ feature).
Read more about the predator team’s work in the voyage blog.