Four Arnoux's Beaked Whales observed from Polarstern expedition

December 22, 2006

On the 17th of December, Meike Scheidat & Linn Lehnert, the whale watchers on board of Polarstern, made a remarkable cetaceans sighting: Four Arnoux's Beaked Whales (Berardius arnuxii), observed from the helicopter.

The Arnoux's Beaked Whales is one of the least known species of the Beaked Whales family (Ziphidae), itself poorly known in general. Arnoux's is one of the biggest species amongst beaked whales. The ones observed were probably 9 metre long. These deep-sea feeding whales are particularly sensitive to underwater acoustic disturbances. The pictures showed a whole array of scars on their skin, which are already under investigation. Some of these scars could have been inflicted by orcas, their potential predators, or by squids, their most common preys, as proposed by Elaina Jorgensen one of our cephalopod specialist onboard. Other scars could be caused by cookie-cutter sharks, which would imply big migration between the subtropical waters where these sharks are found and the ice-edge (64°06 S) where they were observed.

Supply of German Neumayer station

After crossing the Atlantic and the sea ice of the Atka Bay Polarstern supplied the German research station Neumayer on the Ekström Ice Shelf with food and fuel. Helicopters brought up hoses to refill eight 20,000-liter tanks with diesel fuel. The tanks were sitting on sledges ready for later transportation to the station by Caterpillars. The cargo had to be loaded on a secure area on the sea ice as ice conditions did not allow Polarstern to enter the "ice port" right next to the shelf edge.

The first samples

A Spanish team of scientists seized the opportunity of a small patch of open water to catch live animals for observation in aquaria. They will investigate sessile cnidarians living on the seafloor. The main objective is to find out whether these animals are exclusively feeding on fresh algae from the summer bloom or can they also utilize other food sources under conditions of extended periods of sea ice cover. These findings will be a substantial contribution to answer much broader questions such as how did communities adapt to the particular conditions beneath the Larsen Ice Shelves and how do they differ from "normal" areas. A catch with the Agassiz trawl was bountiful and also provided sponges, the most distinct group of animals living on the seafloor in the shelf ecosystem. As the first working groups are supplied with organisms scientific work is running.

Fish survey

On the way to the Antartic Peninsula where the major scientific work will be running Polarstern carried out more than 75 thirty-minute trawls. Length measurements, weight and gender determination, stomach content analyses and the removal of tiny ear bones for age structure analyses are done on board. The sum of the scientific data will provide a comprehensive indication of the fish population dynamics since the end of Antarctic commercial fishing in 1990. The bottom fish survey conducted during ANT XXIII/8 is the seventh survey in a row in the southern Scotia Arc region. The survey contributes to the 'Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources' (CCAMLR). This organization is responsible for the conservation and rational use of all Antarctic marine resources with the exception of cetaceans. Germany focuses its CCAMLR-related research on the state of fish and krill stocks in the Atlantic sector of the Southern Ocean. This research is conducted by the Seafisheries Institute of the Federal Research Centre for Fisheries in Hamburg on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Nutrition, Agriculture and Consumer's Protection in cooperation with foreign institutions, such as the Southwest Fisheries Science Centre of the National Marine Fisheries Service in La Jolla, USA.
Education, Outreach, Communication

Besides their scientifc work Dr Gauthier Chapelle fom the International Polar Foundation and the chief scientist Dr Julian Gutt are providing several internet websites with pictures, films, reports and personal impressions directly from board of Polarstern. If you like to join the expediton, have a look on the following internet pages:

Bremerhaven, 21 December 2006

In case of publication, please provide a copy.

Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research

Related Sea Ice Articles from Brightsurf:

2020 Arctic sea ice minimum at second lowest on record
NASA and the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) at the University of Colorado Boulder shows that the 2020 minimum extent, which was likely reached on Sept.

Sea ice triggered the Little Ice Age, finds a new study
A new study finds a trigger for the Little Ice Age that cooled Europe from the 1300s through mid-1800s, and supports surprising model results suggesting that under the right conditions sudden climate changes can occur spontaneously, without external forcing.

How much will polar ice sheets add to sea level rise?
Over 99% of terrestrial ice is bound up in the ice sheets covering Antarctic and Greenland.

A snapshot of melting Arctic sea ice during the summer of 2018
A study appearing July 29 in the journal Heliyon details the changes that occurred in the Arctic in September of 2018, a year when nearly 10 million kilometers of sea ice were lost throughout the summer.

Antarctic penguins happier with less sea ice
Researchers have been surprised to find that Adélie penguins in Antarctica prefer reduced sea-ice conditions, not just a little bit, but a lot.

Seasonal sea ice changes hold clues to controlling CO2 levels, ancient ice shows
New research has shed light on the role sea ice plays in managing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.

Artificial intelligence could revolutionize sea ice warnings
Today, large resources are used to provide vessels in the polar seas with warnings about the spread of sea ice.

Antarctic sea ice loss explained in new study
Scientists have discovered that the summer sea ice in the Weddell Sea sector of Antarctica has decreased by one million square kilometres -- an area twice the size of Spain -- in the last five years, with implications for the marine ecosystem.

Antarctic sea-ice models improve for the next IPCC report
All the new coupled climate models project that the area of sea ice around Antarctica will decline by 2100, but the amount of loss varies considerably between the emissions scenarios.

Earth's glacial cycles enhanced by Antarctic sea-ice
A 784,000 year climate simulation suggests that Southern Ocean sea ice significantly reduces deep ocean ventilation to the atmosphere during glacial periods by reducing both atmospheric exposure of surface waters and vertical mixing of deep ocean waters; in a global carbon cycle model, these effects led to a 40 ppm reduction in atmospheric CO2 during glacial periods relative to pre-industrial level, suggesting how sea ice can drive carbon sequestration early within a glacial cycle.

Read More: Sea Ice News and Sea Ice Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to