Elephant seals turn around eddies

Elephant seal tracking vs sea level anomalies on the day when the seal turns around the eddy at the right (2011/12/01) (credits CNRS/CEBC)

CEBC is a French laboratory specialized in wildlife habitat studies. They work in particular on Southern Ocean marine fauna, an especially fragile ecosystem. They tag animals such as elephant seals, penguins, albatrosses, etc. with Argos beacons to follow their travels, monitor their feeding behaviour etc. They use satellite data, in particular altimetry, to know the environment of their studied animals, to better understand their foraging behaviour. Such trackings have been made over the past 15 years, and will continue on.

In 2011, the elephant seal we see the track above went East from Kerguelen Island, crossing about 17000 km in straight line before turning round a cyclonic eddy shown in this DUACS maps of SLAs (blue circle). It then went a bit further South, before going West, back to Kerguelen Island, the whole trip having lasted 2 months and a half.