Associations between baleen whales and their prey in the northern Scotia Arc

Lead Research Organisation: University of Southampton
Department Name: Sch of Ocean and Earth Science


Sub-Antarctic South Georgia is a marine biodiversity hotspot, and was historically an epicentre of modern whaling, with >170,000 whales killed locally. A century later, krill-feeding humpback whales have become a common sight at South Georgia again. South Georgia is a hotspot and key fishery area for Antarctic krill, characteristics of which are annually monitored by BAS ( Krill are keystone species, forming swarms of different sizes and shapes depending on their age/size, time of day and location. Krill in this region also have some unique characteristics compared to other Southern Ocean areas, including a predominance of larger-sized animals. New whale sighting datasets, collected alongside active acoustic surveys, provide an opportunity to assess the spatial interactions between whales and krill in a key krill fishery area, also an area of international significance for whales. Are there prey swarm aspects (depth, size, type, location) that most strongly predict whale presence? Do these vary between shelf and offshore waters? This project will generate new data on the spatial associations between whales and krill, and krill characteristics that are most important for whales in the northern Scotia Arc.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
NE/S007210/1 30/09/2019 29/09/2028
2739928 Studentship NE/S007210/1 26/09/2022 26/03/2026 Natalie Justine Nickells