Animals as Oceanographers


The ABC accompanied a team of scientists, including SIMS’ Clive McMahon tracking elephant seals as part of the Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS). 

IMOS is a long-term project supported by the Federal Government which is looking at what’s going on in the oceans surrounding Australia and in places like Antarctica. SIMS operates the NSW node of IMOS, which includes the Animal Tracking Facility.

Clive spoke to his fascinating work with elephant seals who are becoming our most valuable oceanographers.

seals dive almost continuously while at sea, gathering information including
temperature and salinity wherever they travel and giving scientists new
insights into remote and previously inaccessible locations.
Dr McMahon says without
elephant seals darting around the Southern Ocean and Antarctic waters,
scientists wouldn’t be able to access the areas they need to get to.

Antarctic is one of the areas that is critical for understanding global climate
and global oceanographic processes,” he said.

winter it’s near-impossible to get ships down into the Antarctic to take these
measurements, and it’s also not really possible for us to use other
conventional systems like the ARGO floats, because the ice acts as a barrier. So elephant seals are the perfect oceanographers!

Read the full ABC article here:

Seals Helping Scientist to Monitor the Ocean

Listen to the full audio here:

ABC Radio National “Animals and Technology”