The Foundation of Antarctic Research is currently hard at work on several projects to protect some of native wildlife living in the Antarctic region. Please read our summaries below and feel free to click for more information on each of the projects.

Diego Ramirez

Foraging ranges and potential overlap with fisheries of juvenile and non-breeding black-browed and grey headed albatrosses from Diego Ramirez.

This work is a logical extension of previous extensive research we have done on both albatross species at Diego Ramirez in the incubation and early chick rearing period. The new work seeks understanding of the birds foraging whereabouts in their “off” season, how they use the Pacific Ocean basin region, and their overlap with swordfish and tuna fisheries. The fisheries interactions are important because last year Dr Carlos Moreno (Universidad Austral de Chile), with whom I will work collaboratively in any new studies, reported significant albatross mortality in the Chilean swordfish fleet operating in the central Pacific. Any information we can gather on mortality levels and overlaps (from the proposed tracking studies) will be used in appropriate tuna commissions (with jurisdiction in the Pacific Ocean region) to improve uptake of mitigation devices and practices to reduce albatross mortality. Read more about our research on the off season foraging habits of the albatross.

Long Line Fishing

Progress report on the development and testing of the underwater bait setter for pelagic longline fisheries.

Dr. Graham Robertson has created a unique device that can submerge bait at safe distances beneath the ocean’s surface to prevent many of the threats to the albatross species that are posed by dangerous long line fishing systems. The device is propelled under the water to distances between four and six meters where the bait is released the device can be retrieved. Continued testing of this device at sea has indicated that it would be successful in eliminating the mortality of surface-seizing species of birds such as the albatross and would allow for easier guidelines and regulations on the area’s fishing industry. Read more about the bait setting device.

Snow Hill Emperor Penguins

Foraging ecology of Emperor Penguins at the Snow Hill colony, Antarctic Peninsula.

The aim of the research program is to study the foraging ecology of emperor penguins at the Snow Hill colony in summer (December-March). Emphasis will be placed on seeking understanding of factors affecting survival of a) fledglings on their maiden excursion from the natal site and b) adults during the pre-molt and post-molt fattening phases of the annual cycle. Factors affecting survival are likely to be interactions with commercial fishing (krill, finfish) operations in the Weddell Sea and South Atlantic regions, and global warming related changes to the dynamics of the pack-ice zone and the food web. The results of the program will be published in the international scientific literature and submitted to appropriate management for a, such as the Committee for Environmental protection of the Antarctic Treaty and the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (oversees the management of ecologically sustainable fisheries in the Southern Ocean). Read more about our research to protect lives in the Snow Hill colony.