Fieldwork: ICE Ringed seal

Fieldwork for the ICE Ringed seals project was conducted in the summers of 2010, 2011 and 2012. With the Colin Archer Meridian serving as their base and home, a small group of scientists took to the waters off Svalbard. Here, they captured and tagged seals with the most advanced satellite transmitter tags for studying marine mammals ever developed. During each field season readers were invited to follow the fieldwork through these field reports.

Scientists attaching a satellite transmitter to a ringed seal

Ringed seals are very calm when handled, and we do not drug them when deploying satellite transmitters. Each animal carries its transmitter only for about a year. They are glued to the fur of the seal, and fall off when the seal starts its annual moulting. Photo: Kit M. Kovacs and Christian Lydersen / Norwegian Polar Institute

Season 3: July–August 2012

The third and final season's fieldwork was conducted in Nordaustlandet and Kongsfjorden, Svalbard. 18 satellite transmitter tags were deployed. We also had some whale encounters, and even got to see an old friend, who had grown even fatter since last year.

  • ICE Ringed seals – 2nd (and final) field report

    ICE Ringed seals – 2nd (and final) field report

    We are soon on our way south toward Longyearbyen, weather permitting, at the end of a successful expedition, which is the last field work for this project.

  • ICE Ringed seals 2012 First Field Report

    ICE Ringed seals 2012 First Field Report

    The ICE Ringed seals project is back in Svalbard for a third and final season of tagging seals with satellite transmitters. 3 weeks in, the scientists have now completed fhe first phase of the 2012 fieldwork.

Season 2: July–August 2011

For our second fieldwork season, we had planned to go up into the Rijpfjorden area, but we were stopped by vast amounts of drift ice from the high north. Istead, we worked on the west coast of Spitsbergen, concentrating around the Kongsfjorden–Krossfjorden area, near Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard. All satellite tags were deployed successfully, and are now out operating; 11 on ringed seals and 5 on bearded seals.

A lot of this year’s seals seem to be staying close to the front of glaciers. These areas seem to be rich in food, and all of the animals we captured this season were in fantastic condition – which means FAT for seals. At the same time it raises a concern: the glaciers are retracting, melting with increasing speed under climate warming. When the glaciers are reduced to the point where they do not meet the sea, their food supply value will be lost.

Season 1: July–August 2010

The first season's fieldwork was conducted in Nordaustlandet, Svalbard. Things went very well, despite being harassed by polar bears, as well as shifting weather and ice conditions. At the end of the expedition we had deployed 9 satellite transmitter tags.

  • Ringed seals in the Arctic Ocean

    Ringed seals in the Arctic Ocean

    Nine ringed seals are now swimming around with brand new, advanced satellite transmitters. One is already at 84 degrees North, far into the ice of the Arctic Ocean.

  • Ringed seal equipped with advanced satellite tag

    Ringed seal equipped with advanced satellite tag

    A ringed seal has for the first time been equipped with a new advanced satellite tag, in northern Svalbard.

  • Ringed seals and ICE

    Ringed seals and ICE

    In the ICE Ecosystems’ ringed seal project we will take a closer look at the ringed seals in Svalbard.