Seals map bathymetry of the Antarctic continental shelf
We demonstrate the first use of marine mammal dive-depth data to improve maps of bathymetry in poorly sampled regions of the continental shelf. A group of 57 instrumented elephant seals made on the order of 2 x 10(5) dives over and near the continental shelf on the western side of the Antarctic Peninsula during five seasons, 2005-2009. Maximum dive depth exceeded 2000 m. For dives made near existing ship tracks with measured water depths H<700 m, similar to 30% of dive depths were to the seabed, consistent with expected benthic foraging behavior. By identifying the deepest of multiple dives within small areas as a dive to the seabed, we have developed a map of seal-derived bathymetry. Our map fills in several regions for which trackline data are sparse, significantly improving delineation of troughs crossing the continental shelf of the southern Bellingshausen Sea.
Authors: Padman, Laurie, Costa, Daniel P., Bolmer, S.Thompson, Goebel, Michael E., Huckstadt, Luis A., Jenkins, Adrian, McDonald, Birgitte I., Shoosmith, Deborah R.