project seeks to determine the causes, both biological and physical,
that produce the areas of high krill abundance around Livingston
Island, an island in the South Sheltlands just northwest of the
Antarctic Peninsula. Research cruises are taken annually (2005-2007)
during January and February to study the krill ecosystem. The project
PIs are Joseph Warren (Stony Brook University) and David Demer
(Southwest Fisheries Science Center). We collaborate with many other scientists in
this project. This project is supported by a
grant from the National Science Foundation's Office of Polar Programs
and by NOAA's Antarctic Ecosystem Resource
Division led by
Dr. Rennie Holt.
Antarctic krill are small crustaceans which are a key component of the
Antarctic ecosystem. Almost every higher trophic-level predator in
Antarctica relies (almost exclusively in many cases) on krill as their
food source. These predators include: sea birds (petrels, albatross),
penguins, fur seals, and baleen whales (fin, minke, humpback). Some of
these predators also rely on squid and small fish as part of their
The krill rely on phytoplankton for their energy needs. Phytoplankton
occur all throughout the Southern ocean, however their abundance
depends on many different factors: amount of light, amount of ice
cover, water movement, and nutrient availability.
Krill fresh from a net tow during the 2006 research cruise. Photo by
The RVs Ernest (foreground) and Yuzhmorgeologiya (background) during
the LINKES experiment. Photo by Martin.
Scotian Sea Krill Survey
One aspect of the United States Antarctic Marine Living Resources
(AMLR) program is an annual survey of the Scotian Sea krill stocks. The
US AMLR program is administered by the Antarctic Ecosystem Resource
Division at the Southwest Fisheries Science Center in La Jolla, CA.
They undertake an annual study of this area which consists of a broad
scale survey grid (covering roughly 54 to 63 W and 60 to 63
The AMLR research program uses multiple frequency acoustics, net tows,
predator observers, phytoplankton measurements, and hydrographic
profiles in order to assess the abundance, distribution, variability,
and other aspects of the Antarctic krill ecosystem in this area. The
2006 survey marks the 20th anniversary of the AMLR research cruises
making it one of the longer oceanographic ecological surveys in the
Southern ocean. The LINKES project grew out of research initially
conducted during the AMLR cruises in 2000, 2002 ( small boat and buoys ), and 2004 (report not yet online).
In addition to the research cruises, the US
(in conjunction with the National Science Foundation's Office of Polar
Programs) supports several field camps on the South Shetland Islands
which house researchers studying penguin and fur seal populations.
Livingston Island is home to the Cape Shirreff field camp where 4-6
researchers live for 5 months each year. The Cape Shirreff field camp
is led by Drs. Rennie Holt, Mike Goebel, and Wayne Trivelpiece. The
camps (and their personnel) generously provide our small boat
researchers accommodations during our nearshore survey. The nearshore
survey would not be possible without the support of the field camp
personnel which we are extremely grateful for. In addition to living
with the camp personnel, we work with them on research questions as our
data sets and methods are often complementary. Also, Dr. Rennie Holt
makes the best homemade ice cream in Antarctica!
tent on Livingston Island. Photo by Martin.