Elephant Seals Gather Climate Data
Meet deepsea diver Gustavo. Gustavo is a a 3-ton elephant seal that scientists at Germany’s Alfred Wegener Institute have put into service to collect ocean data. Some elephant seal bulls were tagged with state-of-the-art satellite transmitters at the Dallmann Laboratory on King George Island, Antarctica. Read about it here: Alfred Wegener Institute.
The scientists from the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in the Helmholtz Association furnished some elephant seals with transmitters that operate using the satellite-aided ARGOS location system. Here’s how it works:
During the annual migrations to their oceanic feeding grounds elephant seals cover thousands of kilometres. They dive down to depths of over 2000 metres and remain under water for periods of over an hour. When a seal with a transmitter dives, it collects data – even under the ice – and then appears on the surface again to breathe after some time. While it breathes fresh air, the recorded data package is sent to a satellite that passes on the signals received.
The elephant seals will gather and transmit data during the Antarctic winter, a time when ships are not able to perform this job because of too much sea ice.