2018-2019 Science Planning Summaries
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2018-2019 USAP Field Season
Project Detail

Project Title

Foraging behavior and ecological role of the least-studied Antarctic krill predator, the Antarctic minke whale (Balaenoptera bonaerensis)

Antarctic minke whale carrying a multi-sensor video recording tag with the ARSV Laurence M. Gould in the background.  
Photo by: Ari Friedlaender
B-206-L Research Location(s): Gerlache Strait / Wilhelmina Bay / Andvord Island Bay / Crystal Sound


Event Number:

Program Manager:
Dr. Jennifer Burns / Dr. Christian Fritsen

ASC POC/Implementer:
Samina Ouda / Bruce Felix

Principal Investigator(s)

Dr. Ari Seth Friedlaender
University of California Santa Cruz
Institute of Marine Sciences
Santa Cruz, California


Supporting Stations: ARSV Laurence M. Gould
Research Locations: Gerlache Strait / Wilhelmina Bay / Andvord Island Bay / Crystal Sound


Researchers will measure the underwater behavior of minke whales to better understand how they exploit the sea-ice habitat. They will use video-recording motion-sensing tags to determine where and when the whales feed and unmanned aerial systems (UAS) to determine how much time whales spend in sea ice versus open water, and how their behavior changes between those two habitats. They will also use scientific echosounders to characterize the prey field that the whales are exploiting and will investigate the differences in krill availability in and out of the ice. The acquired information will help better understand the ecological role of Antarctic minke whales so that better predictions can be made regarding impacts of climate change, not only on these animals, but on the structure and function of the Antarctic marine ecosystem.

Field Season Overview

This season, researchers will locate, tag, and track aggregations of minke whales in the vicinity of the Gerlache Strait. From small boats, they will attach suction cup and satellite tags to whales and obtain biopsy samples. To map whale prey, they will conduct net tows, use towfish-mounted echosounders on the ARSV Laurence M. Gould and smaller echosounders mounted on Zodiac boats. The team will also use fixed-wing and multi-rotor UAS to conduct surveys of whales and other marine species and habitats.

Deploying Team Members

  • David Cade
  • Ari Friedlaender (PI)
  • Jeremy Goldbogen (Co-PI)
  • David Johnston (Co-PI)
  • David Johnston (Co-PI)
  • James Taylor