2017-2018 USAP Field Season
Foraging ecology and physiology of the leopard seal
Dr. Daniel Costa
University of California Santa Cruz
Project Web Site:
Supporting Stations: ARSV Laurence M. Gould
This project will examine the physiology and behavior of leopard seals in an effort to determine their ability to respond to potential changes in their habitat and foraging areas. Using satellite tracking devices, the research team will examine the movement and diving behavior of leopard seals and couple this information with measurements of their physiological capacity. The project will determine whether leopard seals--who feed on a diverse range of prey--are built differently than their deep-diving relatives the Weddell and elephant seal who feed on fish and squid.
Field Season Overview
The team will dart up to 11 Leopard seals per season on land using a Tele-inject air gun darting system. The darts will contain an anesthetic. Once the anesthetic has taken effect and the seal is secured by a net, additional anesthesia will be administered by isoflurane gas. This will allow collection of physiological and foraging samples and instrument attachment using quick setting marine epoxy. While sedated, animals will be flipper tagged, sexed, measured and body condition estimated using morphometrics. Analysis on tissue and blood samples will be conducted later at the scientist’s home institutions. Tag recovery will be attempted every season.
Deploying Team Members