The Hunter's Breath tells a story of adventure and discovery in Antarctica

SANTA CRUZ, CA--In six trips to Antarctica, biologist Terrie Williams endured brutal conditions on the coldest, driest, windiest continent on Earth in order to learn the secrets of the mysterious Weddell seals, the only wild mammals capable of surviving Antarctic winters. In her new book, The Hunter's Breath, Williams interweaves two amazing stories from those expeditions: One is the story of the seals and their remarkable adaptations to life on and beneath the Antarctic sea ice, while the other is a human story of adventure and discovery in one of the most punishing environments on Earth.

The scientific question that Williams and seven fellow scientists set out to answer was a simple one: How do Weddell seals survive in the Antarctic? A professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, Williams was particularly interested in how the seals hunt for food beneath the ice. Finding the answers was a thrilling adventure for the scientists, and Williams wanted to share the experience with others.

"It was such an exciting project and the discoveries were coming so quickly, it just seemed like one of those grand adventures that people would appreciate," Williams said.

The project's popular appeal was brought home to Williams when she launched a web site for the 2001 expedition, posting weekly reports from the field. Initially aimed at primary- and secondary-school students, the site quickly attracted adult fans as well, and before long Williams was receiving enthusiastic e-mails from people all around the world.

"I suddenly realized that a broad group of people were interested in Antarctica and seals and the process of scientific discovery," she said.

The book focuses on the 2001 expedition, when the events of September 11, just before the group's departure, added new complications and emotions to a journey that is diff

Contact: Tim Stephens
University of California - Santa Cruz

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