Marine animals write their own atlas

Southern elephant seals were fitted with GPS collars to help provide data for the new atlas. Credit: Valeria Falabella, Wildlife Conservation Society
Southern elephant seals were fitted with GPS collars to help provide data for the new atlas. Credit: Valeria Falabella, Wildlife Conservation Society

The marine animals of the Patagonian Sea have apparently been hard at work  informing humanity about their home turf. An atlas of this sea, off the southeastern coast of South America, has been published using data from satellite transmitters affixed to a host of Patagonian vertebrates.

The atlas is published by the Wildlife Conservation Society and BirdLife International. Twenty-five scientists collected the data over 10 years, using the transmitters to track marine animals from the coasts of southern Brazil to southern Chile. For example, the studies found that elephant seals travel about 6,200 miles during an average season at sea, and that they travel an additional 6,200 when they dive to find food.  Other tracked species include five species of albatross, three species of petrel, four varieties of penguin, two fur seal species and the South American sea lion.

The atlas is being produced in English and Spanish and will be used to help inform policy decisions in the region, including managing fisheries and charting transportation routes of oil tankers. The Patagonian Sea, which spans 1.1 million square miles, is becoming increasingly threatened by development and overfishing, says the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Claudio Campagna, who runs the Wildlife Conservation Society’s “Sea and Sky” initiative, says the atlas is unique because it was “essentially written by the wildlife that live in the Patagonian sea.”  Hopefully these new stakeholders will bring a fresh perspective to the table.

Read more here.

Author: Christine Buckley

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