Surveys at King Edward Point, 2019

Following our first season of surveys at South Georgia in 2018, we were unable to secure a vessel charter to realise our goals for the next summer (January/February 2019) season, so we decided instead to run a field season at King Edward Point research station during this season, and seek a vessel charter to work further offshore in January/February 2020 instead.

In December 2018, a team of six researchers embarked on the journey to King Edward Point research station, with the plan to work from the local BAS-run boats (RIBs and Jet boats) during January and February 2019.

RIB at glacier
We used the BAS RIB to do close-up whale research at South Georgia, with a mounted bowsprit attached to the front. Image: Darryl MacDonald

Our goal was to see if whale research could be done in the coastal waters near to Cumberland Bay (between St Andrews Bay to the southeast and Stromness Bay to the northeast), and to conduct photo-ID, collect skin samples, fly drones to collect overhead images, and to satellite tag whales. Because small boats were used and equipment was limited, acoustics weren’t used to find whales during this season.

Map of South G showing survey location

We were very fortunate to have substantial funding and logistical assistance in carrying out this season of work, from the Government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, from EU BEST, DARWIN PLUS, WWF and South Georgia Heritage Trust / Friends of South Georgia Island.

While we were in the field, we blogged about our activities on our Facebook page – check it out for updates and news about our tagged humpback whales!

South Georgia team 2019
The 2019 South Georgia field team. From L to R: Connor Bamford, Emma Carroll, Jen Jackson, Darryl MacDonald, Amy Kennedy, Steph Martin, Baptiste Brebel (BAS boatman), Zac Priestly (BAS boatman)


Author: polarbiome

British Antarctic Survey research scientist. Principal Investigator EU BEST right whale SWIM project.