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

Project Title

Foraging ecology and physiology of the leopard seal

no photo available
B-232-L Research Location(s): Cape Shirreff


Event Number:
NSF/OPP Award 1644256

Program Manager:
Dr. Christian Fritsen

ASC POC/Implementer:
Samina Ouda / Cara Ferrier

Principal Investigator(s)

Dr. Daniel Costa
University of California Santa Cruz
Dept of Ecology & Evolutionary Bio
Santa Cruz, California

Project Web Site:


Supporting Stations: ARSV Laurence M. Gould
Research Locations: Cape Shirreff


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

A team of four will travel on the ARSV Laurence M. Gould to the Cape Shirreff field camp, where they will reside for about five weeks. While there, they will dart up to 11 leopard seals per season on land. This approach will allow collection of physiological and foraging samples and instrument attachment to track movements. Analysis of samples will be conducted later at the scientists' home institutions. Tag recovery will be attempted every season.

Deploying Team Members

  • Daniel Crocker (Co-PI)
  • Michael Goebel
  • Shane Kanatous (Co-PI)
  • Sarah Kienle
  • Steve Trumble (Co-PI)