On the 17th of December, Meike Scheidat & Linn Lehnert, the whale watchers on board of Polarstern, made a remarkable cetaceans sighting: Four Arnoux's Beaked Whales (Berardius arnuxii), observed from the helicopter.
The Arnoux's Beaked Whales is one of the least known species of the Beaked Whales family (Ziphidae), itself poorly known in general. Arnoux's is one of the biggest species amongst beaked whales. The ones observed were probably 9 metre long. These deep-sea feeding whales are particularly sensitive to underwater acoustic disturbances. The pictures showed a whole array of scars on their skin, which are already under investigation. Some of these scars could have been inflicted by orcas, their potential predators, or by squids, their most common preys, as proposed by Elaina Jorgensen one of our cephalopod specialist onboard. Other scars could be caused by cookie-cutter sharks, which would imply big migration between the subtropical waters where these sharks are found and the ice-edge (6406 S) where they were observed.
Supply of German Neumayer station
After crossing the Atlantic and the sea ice of the Atka Bay Polarstern supplied the German research station Neumayer on the Ekstrm Ice Shelf with food and fuel. Helicopters brought up hoses to refill eight 20,000-liter tanks with diesel fuel. The tanks were sitting on sledges ready for later transportation to the station by Caterpillars. The cargo had to be loaded on a secure area on the sea ice as ice conditions did not allow Polarstern to enter the "ice port" right next to the shelf edge.
The first samples
A Spanish team of scientists seized the opportunity of a small patch of open water to catch live animals for observation in aquaria. They will investigate sessile cnidarians living on the seafloor. The main objective is to find out whether these animals are exclusively feeding on fresh algae from the summer bloom or can they also utilize ot
Contact: Dr. Angelika Dummermuth
Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research