Photo Essay: Duke Marine Lab's Stunning Journey to Study Antarctic Whales

January 9, 2018

Follow the adventures of our Duke University Marine Lab crew, including Nicholas School faculty Andy Read, Dave Johnston and Doug Nowacek, with these amazing photos that they tweeted from their current field research in Antarctica. They are studying the ecological role of humpback whales in a rapidly changing Antarctic ecosystem using a variety of tools including tags, biopsies, photo ID, and drones.

The team is there as part of a larger National Science Foundation long-term ecological research (LTER) project at Palmer Station Antarctica, one of three U.S. research stations in Antarctica. The Palmer LTER research focuses on the Antarctic pelagic marine ecosystem from ocean physics right up to the ecology of top predators, and involves scientists over 8 academic institutions.

You can see more of our DUML team's work at #PalmerLTER on Twitter. 


...and we're off! Later, Punta Arenas. Antarctica here we come! #PalmerLTER #64Sscience #DroneAntarctica (Tweeted @MarineUAS, Dec. 30, 2017)

dave johnston palmer station palmerLTER drones whales

Happy New Year from the Drake Passage. Midnight view on the first morning of 2018, from the bow of the R/V Gould. (Tweeted @MarineUAS, Dec. 31, 2017)

dave johnston palmer station palmerLTER drones whales

Drake crossing done! Before reaching Palmer Station we stopped at the @NOAA field camp at Cape Shirreff w/ some supplies. #PalmerLTER #64Sscience  (Tweeted @MarineUAS, Dec. 31, 2017)

dave johnston palmer station palmerLTER drones whales
dave johnston palmer station palmerLTER drones whales
dave johnston palmer station palmerLTER drones whales

The team made it to Palmer Station! Some of our team will stay at the station while others will leave with the Gould to work along the peninsula. #PalmerLTER #64Sscience (Tweeted @MarineUAS, Jan. 5, 2017)

dave johnston palmer station palmerLTER drones whales
dave johnston palmer station palmerLTER drones whales
dave johnston palmer station palmerLTER drones whales

First day in the field. Two tags on, photo IDs, biopsies, & awesome photogrammetry flights. #PalmerLTER whale team off to a great start. #64Sscience #DroneAntarctica (Tweeted @MarineUAS on Jan. 5)

dave johnston palmer station palmerLTER drones whales
dave johnston palmer station palmerLTER drones whales
dave johnston palmer station palmerLTER drones whales

It’s only been a ten-day commute to get to work - but the team is ready to go! Follow along for our #PalmerLTER whale crew adventures. #64Sscience #DroneAntarctica (Tweeted @MarineUAS on Jan. 6)

dave johnston palmer station palmerLTER drones whales

Morning commute - Antarctic style. A bird’s eye view from the bottom of the world as @DukeU PhD student @Grogology prepares for another day in the field. #DroneAntarctica #64Sscience #PalmerLTER (Tweeted @MarineUAS on Jan. 8)

dave johnston gray seals story.jpg
dave johnston gray seals story.jpg
dave johnston gray seals story.jpg

After a long day in the field. #PalmerLTER #64Sscience #DroneAntarctica (Tweeted @MarineUAS on Jan. 8)

dave johnston palmer station palmerLTER drones whales

Palmer Station, Antarctica. Home to half of our #PalmerLTER team. PhD student @Grogology won the lottery & is working here until April. Follow him for his research updates. #DroneAntarctica #64Sscience (Tweeted @MarineUAAS on Jan 10)

dave johnston palmer station palmerLTER drones whales

For more updates, follow us on Twitter: Duke Marine Lab (@DukeMarineLab), Duke Marine Robotics & Remote Sensing Lab (@MarineUAS), Dave Johnston (@dioptrica) and #PalmerLTER.

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