Researchers on ice post their progress on the web

Date: 1/4/2002

According to the University of California Santa Cruze (UCSC) Weddell seals feed by diving beneath the frozen Antarctic sea ice to hunt fish in darkness and freezing cold water at depths so great the pressure collapses their lungs.

Thanks to a new website, anyone can check out the lives of Weddell seals and the travels of the of the scientists studying them.

Created by Terrie Williams, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at UCSC, the website (www.biology.ucsc.edu/people/williams/antarctic/) chronicles her ongoing investigation of the feeding biology of Weddell seals.

Her website features weekly instalments with photographs and field notes describing the process of the 10-week expedition, which is sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

‘I designed it for schoolchildren and teachers, because I wanted to give kids in science classes a taste of the thrill of scientific discovery – I hope to bring that moment of discovery alive.’

Still to come, the researchers will be choosing seals to use in their experiments. They will mount video cameras and other monitoring equipment on top of the seals’ heads to get a seal’s eye view of life beneath the ice.

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