Published Data Library (PDL)

Southern Indian Ocean hydrographic data from instrumented Elephant seals


A Southern Indian Ocean hydrographic database obtained with instrumented elephant seals.

Author(s) Roquet F. (1); Guinet C. (2); Hindell M. (3)

(1) University of Stockholm, Sweden; (2) CNRS Centre for Biological Studies, Chizé; (3) Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies

Subject location, oceans

For around a decade, southern elephant seals (mirounga leonina) have been used to collect hydrographic (temperature & salinity) profiles in the Southern Ocean. CTD-SRDLs (Conductivity Temperature Depth –Satellite Relayed Data Loggers) attached to seals' heads in Antarctic and sub-Antarctic locations measure water property profiles during dives and transmit data using the ARGOS (Advanced Research & Global Observation Satellite) network (Fedak 2013). CTD-SRDLs are built by the Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU, University of St Andrews, UK); they include miniaturised CTD units made by Valeport Ltd. When seals are foraging at sea 2.5 profiles can be obtained daily, on average. Profiles average 500m depth, but can be 2000m in extreme cases (Boehme et al. 2009, Roquet et al. 2011). Deployment efforts have been very intensive in the Southern Indian Ocean, with biannual campaigns in the Kerguelen Islands since 2004 and many deployments in Davis and Casey Antarctic stations (Roquet et al., 2013) more recently. 207 CTD-SRDL tags have been deployed there, giving about 75,000 hydrographic profiles in the Kerguelen Plateau area. About two thirds of the dataset was obtained between 2011 & 2013 as a consequence of intensive Australian Antarctic station deployments. There is also regular data since 2004 from French and Franco-Australian Kerguelen Island deployments. Although not included here, many CTD-SRDL tags deployed in the Kerguelen Islands included a fluorimeter. Fluorescence profiles can be used as a proxy for chlorophyll content (Guinet et al. 2013, Blain et al. 2013). Seal-derived hydrographic data have been used successfully to improve understanding of elephant seal foraging strategies and their success (Biuw et al., 2007, Bailleul, 2007). They provide detailed hydrographic observations in places and seasons with virtually no other data sources (Roquet et al. 2009, Ohshima et al. 2013, Roquet et al. 2013). Hydrographic data available in this dataset were edited using an Argo-inspired procedure and then visually. Each CTD-SRDL dataset was adjusted using several delayed-mode techniques, including a temperature offset correction and a linear-in-pressure salinity correction - described in Roquet et al. (2011). Adjusted hydrographic data have estimated accuracies of about +/-0.03oC and +/-0.05 psu (practical salinity unit). The salinity accuracy depends largely on the distribution of CTD data for any given CTD-SRDL, which decides the quality of adjustment parameters. Adjustments are best when hydrographic profiles are available in the region between the Southern Antarctic Circumpolar Current Front and the Antarctic divergence (55oS-62oS latitude range in the Southern Indian Ocean). Several institutes provided funding for the associated programs and the logistics necessary for the fieldwork. The observatory MEMO (Mammifères Echantillonneurs du Milieu Marin), funded by CNRS institutes (INSU and INEE), carried out the French contribution to the study. The project received financial and logistical support from CNES (TOSCA program), the Institut Paul-Emile Victor (IPEV), the Total Foundation and ANR. MEMO is associated with the Coriolis centre, part of the SOERE consortium CTD02 (Coriolis-temps différé Observations Océaniques, PI: G. Reverdin), which distributes real-time and delayed-mode products. The Australian contribution came from the Australian Animal Tracking and Monitoring System, an Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS) facility. The work was also supported by the Australian Government's Cooperative Research Centres Programme via the Antarctic Climate & Ecosystem Cooperative Research Centre. The University of Tasmania and Macquarie University's Animal Ethics Committees approved the animal handling. Both tagging programs are part of the MEOP (Marine Mammals Exploring the Oceans Pole to Pole) international consortium - an International Polar Year (IPY) project.

Temporal coverage 24 February 2004 - 30 October 2013
Spatial coverage Southern Ocean, Indian Ocean
File format Network Common Data Form, Ocean Data View
Language English
Discovery metadata record Link to the related European Directory of Marine Environmental Data (EDMED) record
Publisher British Oceanographic Data Centre - Natural Environment Research Council, UK
Publication date 13 May 2014
Digital Object Identifier (DOI) doi:10.5285/f8f4dc5f-2eed-24ef-e044-000b5de50f38
Short DOI doi:10/srk
Citation text Roquet F.; Guinet C.; Hindell M. (2014). A Southern Indian Ocean hydrographic database obtained with instrumented elephant seals. British Oceanographic Data Centre - Natural Environment Research Council, UK. doi:10/srk.

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