The Foraging Biology of Weddell
from the Field
M. Williams, Ph.D.)
Funded by the National Science Foundation – Division of Polar
Additional Support from the Ida
Benson Lynn Chair in Ocean Health
Stephen Hauskins (Website Support,
University of California, Santa Cruz)
Randall Davis, Lee A. Fuiman, Terrie M. Williams, Markus Horning
Calkins, Matt Rutishauser, Jesse E. Purdy
Our research team is in Antarctica conducting a scientific investigation
concerning the feeding biology of Weddell seals.
These large phocid seals must hunt and capture fish while diving under
the frozen Antarctic sea ice. To
accomplish this, Weddell seals travel to great depths in freezing, dark water
where the pressure is so high that it squeezes their lungs to a fraction of
their normal size. AND the
seals must capture their prey while holding their breath.
The question is, how do they do it?
The purpose our expedition is to answer this question so that we may
better understand the biology of the animals living in the Antarctic ecosystem.
One of the last sunsets that we will
see in Antarctica. By the third
week of October
we will experience 24 hours of light. The small vehicles in the lower right are snow
blowers working on the
road to the sea ice runway where the planes land.
(Photo by T.M. Williams).
What follows are my
weekly field notes as we conduct this scientific study.
Each week I'll update you on our successes and challenges during the
expedition. The expedition begins
on October 1, 2001 and continues for 10 weeks (depending on weather and seals,
of course). Enjoy the Adventure in