Recent Submissions

  • Early winter barium excess in the southern Indian Ocean as an annual remineralisation proxy (GEOTRACES GIPr07 cruise).

    van Horsten, Natasha René; Planquette, Hélène; Sarthou, Géraldine; Ryan-Keogh, Thomas James; Lemaitre, Nolwenn; Mtshali, Thato Nicholas; Roychoudhury, Alakendra; Bucciarelli, Eva (2022)
    Biogeosciences
    he Southern Ocean (SO) is of global importance to the carbon cycle, and processes such as mesopelagic remineralisation that impact the efficiency of the biological carbon pump in this region need to be better constrained. During this study early austral winter barium excess (Baxs) concentrations were measured for the first time, along 30∘ E in the southern Indian Ocean. Winter Baxs concentrations of 59 to 684 pmol L−1 were comparable to those observed throughout other seasons. The expected decline of the mesopelagic Baxs signal to background values during winter was not observed, supporting the hypothesis that this remineralisation proxy likely has a longer timescale than previously reported. A compilation of available SO mesopelagic Baxs data, including data from this study, shows an accumulation rate of ∼0.9 µmol m−2 d−1 from September to July that correlates with temporally integrated remotely sensed primary productivity (PP) throughout the SO from data spanning ∼20 years, advocating for a possible annual timescale of this proxy. The percentage of mesopelagic particulate organic carbon (POC) remineralisation as calculated from estimated POC remineralisation fluxes over integrated remotely sensed PP was ∼2-fold higher south of the polar front (19 ± 15 %, n=39) than north of the polar front (10 ± 10 %, n=29), revealing the higher surface carbon export efficiency further south. By linking integrated remotely sensed PP to mesopelagic Baxs stock, we could obtain better estimates of carbon export and remineralisation signals within the SO on annual and basin scales.
  • An indicator of sea ice variability for the Antarctic marginal ice zone.

    Vichi, Marcello (2022)
    The Cryosphere
    Remote-sensing records over the last 40 years have revealed large year-to-year global and regional variability in Antarctic sea ice extent. Sea ice area and extent are useful climatic indicators of large-scale variability, but they do not allow the quantification of regions of distinct variability in sea ice concentration (SIC). This is particularly relevant in the marginal ice zone (MIZ), which is a transitional region between the open ocean and pack ice, where the exchanges between ocean, sea ice and atmosphere are more intense. The MIZ is circumpolar and broader in the Antarctic than in the Arctic. Its extent is inferred from satellite-derived SIC using the 15 %–80% range, assumed to be indicative of open drift or partly closed sea ice conditions typical of the ice edge. This proxy has been proven effective in the Arctic, but it is deemed less reliable in the Southern Ocean, where sea ice type is unrelated to the concentration value, since wave penetration and free-drift conditions have been reported with 100% cover. The aim of this paper is to propose an alternative indicator for detecting MIZ conditions in Antarctic sea ice, which can be used to quantify variability at the climatological scale on the ice-covered Southern Ocean over the seasons, as well as to derive maps of probability of encountering a certain degree of variability in the expected monthly SIC value. The proposed indicator is based on statistical properties of the SIC; it has been tested on the available climate data records to derive maps of the MIZ distribution over the year and compared with the threshold-based MIZ definition. The results present a revised view of the circumpolar MIZ variability and seasonal cycle, with a rapid increase in the extent and saturation in winter, as opposed to the steady increase from summer to spring reported in the literature. It also reconciles the discordant MIZ extent estimates using the SIC threshold from different algorithms. This indicator complements the use of the MIZ extent and fraction, allowing the derivation of the climatological probability of exceeding a certain threshold of SIC variability, which can be used for planning observational networks and navigation routes, as well as for detecting changes in the variability when using climatological baselines for different periods.
  • Using seabird and whale distribution models to estimate spatial consumption of krill to inform fishery management.

    Warwick-Evans, V.; Kelly, N.; Dalla Rosa, L.; Friedlaender, A.; Hinke, J. T.; Kim, J. H.; Kokubun, N.; Santora, J. A.; Secchi, E. R.; Seyboth, E.; et al. (2022)
    Ecosphere
    Ecosystem dynamics at the northwest Antarctic Peninsula are driven by interactions between physical and biological processes. For example, baleen whale populations are recovering from commercial harvesting against the backdrop of rapid climate change, including reduced sea ice extent and changing ecosystem composition. Concurrently, the commercial harvesting of Antarctic krill is increasing, with the potential to increase the likelihood for competition with and between krill predators and the fishery. However, understanding the ecology, abundance, and spatial distribution of krill predators is often limited, outdated, or at spatial scales that do not match those desired for effective fisheries management. We update current knowledge of predator dependence on krill by integrating telemetry-based data, at-sea observational surveys, estimates of predator abundance, and physiological data to estimate the spatial distribution of krill consumption during the austral summer by three species of Pygoscelis penguin, 11 species of flying seabirds, one species of pinniped, and two species of baleen whale. Our models show that the majority of important areas for krill predator foraging are close to penguin breeding colonies in nearshore areas where humpback whales also regularly feed, and along the shelf-break, though we caution that not all known krill predators are included in these analyses. We show that krill consumption is highly variable across the region, and often concentrated at fine spatial scales, emphasizing the need for the management of the local krill fishery at relevant temporal and spatial scales. We also note that krill consumption by recovering populations of krill predators provides further evidence in support of the krill surplus hypothesis, and highlight that despite less than comprehensive data, cetaceans are likely to consume a significant proportion of the krill consumed by natural predators but are not currently considered directly in the management of the krill fishery. If management of the krill fishery is to be precautionary and operate in a way that minimizes the risks to krill predator populations, it will be necessary in future analyses, to include up-to-date and precise abundance and consumption estimates for pack-ice seals, finfish, squid, and other baleen whale species not currently considered.
  • Determination of Trace Metal (Mn, Fe, Ni, Cu, Zn, Co, Cd and Pb) Concentrations in Seawater Using Single Quadrupole ICP-MS: A Comparison between Offline and Online Preconcentration Setups.

    Samanta, Saumik; Cloete, Ryan; Loock, Jean; Rossouw, Riana; Roychoudhury, Alakendra N. (2021)
    Minerals
    The quantification of dissolved metals in seawater requires pre-treatment before the measurement can be done, posing a risk of contamination, and requiring a time-consuming procedure. Despite the development of automated preconcentration units and sophisticated instruments, the entire process often introduces inaccuracies in quantification, especially for low-metal seawaters. This study presents a robust method for measuring dissolved metals from seawater accurately and precisely using a seaFAST and quadrupole Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer (ICPMS), employed in both offline (2016–2018) and online (2020–2021) setups. The proposed method shows data processing, including the re-calculation of metals after eliminating the instrumental signals caused by polyatomic interferences. Here, we report the blank concentration of Fe below 0.02 nmol kg−1, somewhat lower values than that have been previously reported using high-resolution and triple-quad ICPMS. The method allows for the accurate determination of Cd and Fe concentrations in low-metal seawaters, such as GEOTRACES GSP, using a cost-effective quadrupole ICPMS (Cdconsensus: 2 ± 2 pmol kg−1, Cd measured: 0.99 ± 0.35 pmol kg−1; Fe consensus: 0.16 ± 0.05 nmol kg−1, Fe measured: 0.21 ± 0.03 nmol kg−1). Between two setups, online yields marginally lower blank values for metals based on short-term analysis. However, the limit of detection is comparable between the two, supporting optimal instrumental sensitivity of the ICPMS over 4+ years of analysis.
  • Combining Regional Habitat Selection Models for Large-Scale Prediction: Circumpolar Habitat Selection of Southern Ocean Humpback Whales.

    Reisinger, Ryan R.; Friedlaender, Ari S.; Zerbini, Alexandre N.; Palacios, Daniel M.; Andrews-Goff, Virginia; Dalla Rosa, Luciano; Double, Mike; Findlay, Ken; Garrigue, Claire; How, Jason; et al. (2021)
    Remote Sensing
    Machine learning algorithms are often used to model and predict animal habitat selection— the relationships between animal occurrences and habitat characteristics. For broadly distributed species, habitat selection often varies among populations and regions; thus, it would seem preferable to fit region- or population-specific models of habitat selection for more accurate inference and prediction, rather than fitting large-scale models using pooled data. However, where the aim is to make range-wide predictions, including areas for which there are no existing data or models of habitat selection, how can regional models best be combined? We propose that ensemble approaches commonly used to combine different algorithms for a single region can be reframed, treating regional habitat selection models as the candidate models. By doing so, we can incorporate regional variation when fitting predictive models of animal habitat selection across large ranges. We test this approach using satellite telemetry data from 168 humpback whales across five geographic regions in the Southern Ocean. Using random forests, we fitted a large-scale model relating humpback whale locations, versus background locations, to 10 environmental covariates, and made a circumpolar prediction of humpback whale habitat selection. We also fitted five regional models, the predictions of which we used as input features for four ensemble approaches: an unweighted ensemble, an ensemble weighted by environmental similarity in each cell, stacked generalization, and a hybrid approach wherein the environmental covariates and regional predictions were used as input features in a new model. We tested the predictive performance of these approaches on an independent validation dataset of humpback whale sightings and whaling catches. These multiregional ensemble approaches resulted in models with higher predictive performance than the circumpolar naive model. These approaches can be used to incorporate regional variation in animal habitat selection when fitting range-wide predictive models using machine learning algorithms. This can yield more accurate predictions across regions or populations of animals that may show variation in habitat selection.
  • Variability of Sea-Air Carbon Dioxide Flux in Autumn Across the Weddell Gyre and Offshore Dronning Maud Land in the Southern Ocean.

    Ogundare, Margaret Ojone; Fransson, Agneta; Chierici, Melissa; Joubert, Warren R.; Roychoudhury, Alakendra N. (2021)
    Frontiers in Marine Science
    Sea surface fugacity of carbon dioxide (fCO2ssw) was measured across the Weddell gyre and the eastern sector in the Atlantic Southern Ocean in autumn. During the occupation between February and April 2019, the region of the study transect was a potential ocean CO2 sink. A net CO2 flux (FCO2) of −6.2 (± 8; sink) mmol m–2 d–1 was estimated for the entire study region, with the largest average CO2 sink of −10.0 (± 8) mmol m–2 d–1 in the partly ice-covered Astrid Ridge (AR) region near the coast at 68°S and −6.1 (± 8) mmol m–2d–1 was observed in the Maud Rise (MR) region. A CO2 sink was also observed south of 66°S in the Weddell Sea (WS). To assess the main drivers describing the variability of fCO2ssw, a correlation model using fCO2 and oxygen saturation was considered. Spatial distributions of the fCO2 saturation/O2 saturation correlations, described relative to the surface water properties of the controlling variables (chlorophyll a, apparent oxygen utilization (AOU), sea surface temperature, and sea surface salinity) further constrained the interplay of the processes driving the fCO2ssw distributions. Photosynthetic CO2 drawdown significantly offsets the influence of the upwelling of CO2-rich waters in the central Weddell gyre and enhanced the CO2 sink in the region. FCO2 of −6.9 mmol m–2 d–1 estimated for the Weddell gyre in this study was different from FCO2 of −2.5 mmol m–2 d–1 in autumn estimated in a previous study. Due to low CO2 data coverage during autumn, limited sea-air CO2 flux estimates from direct sea-surface CO2 observations particularly for the Weddell gyre region are available with which to compare the values estimated in this study. This highlights the importance of increasing seasonal CO2 observations especially during autumn/winter to improving the seasonal coverage of flux estimates in the seasonal sea ice-covered regions of the Southern Ocean.
  • Asset Tracking Whales—First Deployment of a Custom-Made GPS/GSM Suction Cup Tag on Migrating Humpback Whales.

    Meynecke, Jan-Olaf; Liebsch, Nikolai (2021)
    Journal Of Marine Science and Engineering
    The study of marine mammals is greatly enhanced through fine scale data on habitat use. Here we used a commonly available asset tracker Global Positioning System/Global Systems for Mobile Communication (GPS/GSM) integrated into a CATS suction cup tag to test its feasibility in providing real time location position on migrating humpback whales in coastal waters of eastern Australia. During two deployments—one on a suspected male and another on a female humpback whale—the tags provided location points with relatively high accuracy for both individuals albeit different swim behavior and surface intervals. In combination with an integrated archival data logger, the tag also provided detailed information on fine scale habitat use such as dive profiles. However, surface intervals were too short to allow for an upload of location data during deployment. Further improvements of the tag design will allow remote access to location data after deployment. Preliminary results suggested location acquisition was better when the tag was positioned well above the midline of the whale body. The technology promises less expensive, more reliable and more accurate short-term tracking of humpback whales compared to satellite relay tags, and it has the potential to be deployed on other marine mammals in coastal waters.
  • The Role of Environmental Drivers in Humpback Whale Distribution, Movement and Behavior: A Review.

    Meynecke, Jan-Olaf; de Bie, Jasper; Barraqueta, Jan-Lukas Menzel; Seyboth, Elisa; Prakash Dey, Subhra; Lee, Serena B.; Samanta, Saumik; Vichi, Marcello; Findlay, Ken; Roychoudhury, Alakendra; et al. (2021)
    Frontiers in Marine Science
    Humpback whales, Megaptera novaeangliae, are a highly migratory species exposed to a wide range of environmental factors during their lifetime. The spatial and temporal characteristics of such factors play a significant role in determining suitable habitats for breeding, feeding and resting. The existing studies of the relationship between oceanic conditions and humpback whale ecology provide the basis for understanding impacts on this species. Here we have determined the most relevant environmental drivers identified in peer-reviewed literature published over the last four decades, and assessed the methods used to identify relationships. A total of 148 studies were extracted through an online literature search. These studies used a combined estimated 105,000 humpback whale observations over 1,216 accumulated study years investigating the relationship between humpback whales and environmental drivers in both Northern and Southern Hemispheres. Studies focusing on humpback whales in feeding areas found preferences for areas of upwelling, high chlorophyll-a concentration and frontal areas with changes in temperature, depth and currents, where prey can be found in high concentration. Preferred calving grounds were identified as shallow, warm and with slow water movement to aid the survival of calves. The few studies of migration routes have found preferences for shallow waters close to shorelines with moderate temperature and chlorophyll-a concentration. Extracting information and understanding the influence of key drivers of humpback whale behavioral modes are important for conservation, particularly in regard to expected changes of environmental conditions under climate change.
  • Interchange of Southern Hemisphere humpback whales across the South Atlantic Ocean.

    Ramos, Eric Angel; Cheeseman, Ted; Marcondes, Milton Cesar C.; Olio, Marilia; Vogel, Alexander; Elwen, Simon; de Melo, Thais H. M.; Facchola, Cecília; Cipolotti, Sérgio; Southerland, Ken; et al. (2023)
    Scientific Reports
    The cosmopolitan distribution of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) is largely driven by migrations between winter low-latitude breeding grounds and summer high-latitude feeding grounds. Southern Hemisphere humpback whales faced intensive exploitation during the whaling eras and recently show evidence of population recovery. Gene flow and shared song indicate overlap between the western (A) and eastern (B1, B2) Breeding Stocks in the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans (C1). Here, we investigated photo-identification evidence of population interchange using images of individuals photographed during boat-based tourism and research in Brazil and South Africa from 1989 to 2022. Fluke images were uploaded to Happywhale, a global digital database for marine mammal identification. Six whales were recaptured between countries from 2002 to 2021 with resighting intervals ranging from 0.76 to 12.92 years. Four whales originally photographed off Abrolhos Bank, Brazil were photographed off the Western Cape, South Africa (feeding grounds for B2). Two whales originally photographed off the Western Cape were photographed off Brazil, one traveling to the Eastern Cape in the Southwestern Indian Ocean (a migration corridor for C1) before migrating westward to Brazil. These findings photographically confirm interchange of humpback whales across the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans and the importance of international collaboration to understand population boundaries.
  • The land-sea breeze influences the oceanography of the southern Benguela upwelling system at multiple time-scales.

    Fearon, Giles; Herbette, Steven; Cambon, Gildas; Veitch, Jennifer; Meynecke, Jan-Olaf; Vichi, Marcello (2023)
    Frontiers in Marine Science
    The physical and biogeochemical functioning of eastern boundary upwelling systems is generally understood within the context of the upwelling - relaxation cycle, driven by sub-diurnal wind variability (i.e. with a time-scale of greater than a day). Here, we employ a realistically configured and validated 3D model of the southern Benguela upwelling system to quantify the impact of super-diurnal winds associated with the land-sea breeze (LSB). The ocean response to the LSB is found to be particularly enhanced within St Helena Bay (SHB), a hotspot for productivity which is also prone to Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) development. We attribute the enhanced response to a combination of near-critical latitude for diurnal-inertial resonance (~32.5°S), the local enhancement of the LSB, and the local development of a shallow stratified surface layer through bay retention. Pronounced advection of the surface layer by diurnal-inertial oscillations contributes to large differences in day- and night-time sea surface temperatures (SST’s) (more than 2°C on average in SHB). Event-scale diapycnal mixing is particularly enhanced within SHB, as highlighted by a numerical experiment initialised with a subsurface passive tracer. These super-diurnal processes are shown to influence sub-diurnal dynamics within SHB through their modulation of the vertical water column structure. A deeper thermocline retains the upwelling front closer to land during active upwelling, while geostrophically-driven alongshore flow is impacted through the modulation of cross-shore pressure gradients. The results suggest that the LSB is likely to play an important role in the productivity and therefore HAB development within SHB, and highlight potential challenges for observational systems and models aiming to improve our understanding of the physical and biological functioning of the system.
  • Wind-driven upwelling of iron sustains dense blooms and food webs in the eastern Weddell Gyre.

    Moreau, Sebastien; Hattermann, Tore; de Steur, Laura; Kauko, Hanna M.; Ahonen, Heidi; Ardelan, Murat; Assmy, Philipp; Chierici, Melissa; Descamps, Sebastien; Dinter, Tilman; et al. (2023)
    Nature Communications
    The Southern Ocean is a major sink of anthropogenic CO2 and an important foraging area for top trophic level consumers. However, iron limitation sets an upper limit to primary productivity. Here we report on a considerably dense late summer phytoplankton bloom spanning 9000 km2 in the open ocean of the eastern Weddell Gyre. Over its 2.5 months duration, the bloom accumulated up to 20 g C m−2 of organic matter, which is unusually high for Southern Ocean open waters. We show that, over 1997–2019, this open ocean bloom was likely driven by anomalies in easterly winds that push sea ice southwards and favor the upwelling of Warm Deep Water enriched in hydrothermal iron and, possibly, other iron sources. This recurring open ocean bloom likely facilitates enhanced carbon export and sustains high standing stocks of Antarctic krill, supporting feeding hot spots for marine birds and baleen whales.
  • Exchange of Pb from Indian to Atlantic Ocean is driven by Agulhas current and atmospheric Pb input from South Africa.

    Samanta, Saumik; Cloete, Ryan; Prakash Dey, Subhra; Barraqueta, Jan‑Lukas Menzel; Loock, Jean C.; Meynecke, Jan‑Olaf; de Bie, Jasper; Vichi, Marcello; Roychoudhury, Alakendra N. (2023)
    Scientific Reports
    Using a spatiotemporal dataset of dissolved lead (dPb) from the subtropical oceans surrounding South Africa, this study quantifies the exchange of dPb between the Indian and Atlantic Oceans. Despite the absence of a major Pb source within the South Atlantic sector and the complete phase-out of leaded petroleum in Southern Africa, the ecologically important southeast Cape Basin shows an elevated surface dPb concentration (21–30 pmol kg− 1). We estimated up to 90% of the measured dPb in surface waters of the Cape Basin was delivered from the Indian Ocean via the Agulhas Current (AC). Eddy dynamics and leakage at Agulhas retroflection result in an increased Pb flux from winter to summer, while a long-term (2008–2019) temporal change in dPb in the AC-derived water of Cape Basin was contemporaneous to a change in atmospheric Pb emissions from South Africa. The South Africanorigin atmospheric Pb, however, contributes first to the Agulhas waters in the West Indian Ocean, which is then transported to the South Atlantic, thereby regulating the dPb inventory of the Cape Basin. This indirect mechanism of Pb transfer emphasizes the importance of regulating Pb emissions from Southern Africa to protect rich fishing grounds associated with the Benguela marine ecosystem.
  • Exfoliating Whales– Sandy Bottom Contact Behaviour of Humpback Whales.

    Meynecke, Jan-Olaf; Gustafon, Johan; Cade, David E. (2023)
    Journal of Marine Science and Engineering
    Cetaceans are known for their intelligence and display of complex behaviours including object use. For example, bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus) are known to rub on rocks and some humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) populations undertake lateral bottom feeding. Such underwater behaviour is difficult to observe but can play a critical role in the whales’ survival and well-being. Distinguishing social behaviours from those which serve a specific function remains challenging due to a lack of direct observations and detailed descriptions of such behaviours. A CATS (Customized Animal Tracking Solutions) suction cup tag with on board video and a 3D inertial measurement unit was deployed on three different humpback whales to assess their behaviour in the Gold Coast bay, Australia. Here, we present evidence of humpback whales (tagged and untagged individuals) performing bottom contact with prolonged rolling on sandy substrate. In addition, we showed that fish were actively feeding from the whales’ skin during this behaviour. We detail the behaviour and discuss possible drivers, with a focus on cetacean innovation, possible ectoparasite removal, and habitat preferences.
  • Investigations Exploring the Use of an Unstructured-Grid, Finite-Volume Modelling Approach to Simulate Coastal Circulation in Remote Island Settings—Case Study Region, Vanuatu/New Caledonia.

    Lee, S.B.; Zhang, F.; Lemckert, C.J.; Tomlinson, R. (2021)
    Frontiers in Marine Science
    Understanding coastal circulation and how it may alter in the future is important in island settings, especially in the South West Pacific, where communities rely heavily upon marine resources, and where sea level rise (SLR) is higher than the global average. In this study we explore the use of an unstructured-mesh finite-volume modelling approach to assist in filling the knowledge gaps with respect to coastal circulation in remote island locations—selecting the Vanuatu and New Caledonia archipelagos as our example study site. Past limited observations and modelling studies are leveraged to construct and verify a regional/coastal ocean model based on the Finite-Volume Community Ocean Model (FVCOM). Following verification with respect to tidal behaviour, we investigate how changes in wind speed and direction, and SLR, alter coastal water levels and coastal currents. Results showed tidal residual circulation was typically associated with flow separation at headlands and islands. Trade winds had negligible effect on water levels at the coast, however, wind-residual circulation was sensitive to both wind speed and direction. Wind-residual currents were typically strongest close to coastlines. Wind residual circulation patterns were strongly influenced by Ekman flow, while island blocking, topographic steering and geostrophic currents also appear to influence current patterns. Tidal amplitudes and phases were unchanged due to SLR of up to 2 m, while maximum current speeds altered by as much as 20 cm/s within some coastal embayments. Non-linear relationships between SLR and maximum current speeds were seen at some coastal reef platform sites. Under higher sea levels, tidal residual currents altered by less than 2 cm/s which is relatively significant given maximum tidal residual current speeds are typically below 10 cm/s. Our findings indicate that under higher sea levels, coastal processes governing sediment transport, pollutant dispersal and larval transport are likely to alter, which may have implications for coastal environments and ecosystems. Given winds influence coastal circulation and subsequent coastal processes, changes in trade winds due to climate change may act to further alter coastal processes. It is felt that the current modelling approach can be applied to other regions to help fill critical knowledge gaps.
  • Winter Biogeochemical Cycling of Dissolved and Particulate Cadmium in the Indian Sector of the Southern Ocean (GEOTRACES GIpr07 Transect).

    Cloete, R.; Loock, J.C.; van Horsten, N.R.; Fietz, S.; Mtshali, T.N.; Planquette, H.; Roychoudhury, A.N. (2021)
    Frontiers in Marine Science
    Winter distributions of dissolved cadmium (dCd) and particulate cadmium (pCd) were measured for the first time in the Indian sector of the Southern Ocean thereby contributing a unique spatial and seasonal dataset. Seven depth profiles, between 41°S and 58°S, were collected along the 30°E longitude during the 2017 austral winter to investigate the biogeochemical cycling of cadmium during a period characterized by contrasting upper water column dynamics compared to summer. Our results support an important role for biological uptake during winter months albeit weaker compared to summer. Distinct, biologically driven changes in cadmium cycling across the transect were observed. For example, surface ratios of pCd to phosphorus (P; pCd:P) increased from 0.37 to 1.07 mmol mol–1 between the subtropical zone (STZ) and the Antarctic zone (AAZ) reflecting increased Cd requirements for diatoms at higher latitudes which, in turn, was driven by a complex relationship between the availability of dCd and dissolved iron (dFe), zinc (dZn) and manganese (dMn). Vertical profiles of pCd:P displayed near-surface maxima consistent with (1) P occurring in two phases with different labilities and the lability of Cd being somewhere in-between and (2) increasing dCd to phosphate (PO4; dCd:PO4) ratios with depth at each station. North of the Antarctic Polar Front (APF), a secondary, deeper pCd:P maximum may reflect an advective signal associated with northward subducting Antarctic Intermediate Water (AAIW). The strong southward increase in surface dCd and dCd:PO4, from approximately 10–700 pmol kg–1 and 40–400 μmol mol–1, respectively, reflected the net effect of preferential uptake and regeneration of diatoms with high Cd content and the upwelling of Cd enriched water masses in the AAZ. Furthermore, distinct dCd versus PO4 relationships were observed in each of the intermediate and deep water masses suggesting that dCd and PO4 distributions at depth are largely the result of physical water mass mixing.
  • Oceanographic anomalies coinciding with humpback whale super‑group occurrences in the Southern Benguela.

    Prakash Dey, Subhra; Vichi, Marcello; Fearon, Giles; Seyboth, Elisa; Findlay, Ken P.; Meynecke, Jan‑Olaf; de Bie, Jasper; Blyth Lee, Serena; Samanta, Saumik; Barraqueta, Jan‐ Lukas Menzel; et al. (2021)
    Scientific Reports
    Seasonal feeding behaviour of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) has been observed in the coastal waters of the Southern Benguela where the species has been observed forming super-groups during the austral spring in recent years since 2011. Super-groups are unprecedented densely-packed aggregations of between 20 and 200 individuals in low-latitude waters and their occurrences indicate possible changes in feeding behaviour of the species. We accessed published data on super-groups occurrence in the study area in 2011, 2014 and 2015, and investigated oceanographic drivers that support prey availability in this region. We found that enhanced primary production is a necessary but not sufficient condition for super-groups to occur. Positive chlorophyll anomalies occurring one month prior to the super-group occurrences were identified, but only a concurrent significantly reduced water volume export from the region throughout October were conducive to the aggregations in the specific years. Hydrodynamic model results attributed the anomalous decreased volume export to the strength and orientation of the Goodhope Jet and associated eddy activity. The combination of random enhanced primary production typical of the region and emerging anomalous conditions of reduced water export in October since 2011 resulted in favourable food availability leading to the unique humpback whale aggregations. The novelty of this grouping behaviour is indicative of the lack of such oceanographic conditions in the past. Given the recency of the events, it is difficult to attribute this reduction in ocean transport to climatic regime shifts, and the origin should be likely investigated in the distant water mass interaction with the greater Agulhas system rather than in local intensifications of the upwelling conditions. A positive trend in the humpback whale population abundance points to the need to monitor the exposure of the species to the changing climate conditions.
  • Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) behaviour determines habitat use in two Australian bays.

    McCulloch, S.; Meynecke, J.-O.; Franklin, T.; Franklin, W.; Chauvenet, A. L. M. (2021)
    Marine and Freshwater Research
    Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) require a suite of essential habitats during their long migration. Therefore, the identification of critical habitats is important for continuation of their successful recovery. In this study we investigated the behaviours and habitat usage exhibited by humpback whales in two known aggregation sites on the east coast of Australia. Using a combined 5400 humpback whale records collected from Hervey Bay between 1999 and 2009 and from the Gold Coast Bay between 2011 and 2018, we analysed different types of behavioural categories. We found that humpback whales in Hervey Bay primarily exhibited surface travel and non-aggressive social behaviour, whereas both sites appeared to be similarly important for resting. Our results suggest that the Gold Coast Bay provides habitat for a wide range of critical humpback whale activities, in particular for resting mother–calf pairs, mature males seeking copulation and socialising immature whales. Hervey Bay had a higher number of mother–calf pair sightings, confirming the area as an important resting site. This study demonstrates that the two regions are critical habitats for humpback whales during their annual migration, but for different essential activities, and should be considered as a whale protection area.
  • Developing an ocean best practice: A case study of marine sampling practices from Australia

    Przeslawski, Rachel; Barrett, Neville; Carroll, Andrew; Foster, Scott; Gibbons, Brooke; Jordan, Alan; Monk, Jacquomo; Langlois, Tim; Lara-Lopez, Ana; Pearlman, Jay; et al. (2023)
    Frontiers in Marine Science
    Since 2012, there has been a surge in the numbers of marine science publications that use the term ‘best practice’, yet the term is not often defined, nor is the process behind the best practice development described. Importantly a ‘best practice’ is more than a documented practice that an individual or institution uses and considers good. This article describes a rigorous process to develop an ocean best practice using examples from a case study from Australia in which a suite of nine standard operating procedures were released in 2018 and have since become national best practices. The process to develop a best practice includes three phases 1) scope and recruit, 2) develop and release, 3) revise and ratify. Each phase includes 2-3 steps and associated actions that are supported by the Ocean Best Practices System (www.oceanbestpractices.org). The Australian case study differs from many other practices, which only use the second phase (develop and release). In this article, we emphasize the value of the other phases to ensure a practice is truly a ‘best practice’. These phases also have other benefits, including higher uptake of a practice stemming from a sense of shared ownership (from scope and recruit phase) and currency and accuracy (from revise and ratify phase). Although the process described in this paper may be challenging and time-consuming, it optimizes the chance to develop a true best practice that is a) fit-for-purpose with clearly defined scope; b) representative and inclusive of potential users; c) accurate and effective, reflecting emerging technologies and programs; and d) supported and adopted by users.