WCS Releases Massive Atlas of Patagonian Sea
atlas shows how 16 species use critical region of South Atlantic Ocean
the atlas was gathered by 25 scientists over ten years
NOVEMBER 10, 2009)
-- Recording hundreds of thousands of individual uplinks from satellite
transmitters fitted on penguins, albatrosses, sea lions, and other marine
animals, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and BirdLife International have
released the first-ever atlas of the Patagonian Sea – a globally
important but poorly understood South American marine ecosystem.
atlas contains the most accurate maps ever assembled for this ecosystem revealing
key migratory corridors that span from coastlines to deep-sea feeding areas off
the continental shelf hundreds of miles away.
for the atlas was gathered by a team of 25 scientists working over a 10-year period
– many of them supported by the National Research Council of Argentina
(CONICET). The team tracked 16 species of marine animals, which produced some
280,000 individual uplinks of data over the Patagonian Sea, a huge area ranging
from southern Brazil to southern Chile.
Atlas of the Patagonian Sea: Species and
Spaces, the 300-page book was edited by Valeria Falabella and Claudio
Campagna of the Wildlife Conservation Society, and John Croxall of Birdlife
atlas, which is in English and Spanish, will be used to help inform potential policy
decisions in the region such as managing fisheries and charting transportation
routes of oil tankers. This vast region, which spans 3 million square
kilometers (1.1 million square miles), is becoming increasingly threatened by
burgeoning development and overfishing.
unprecedented atlas was essentially written by the wildlife that live in the
Patagonian Sea,” said Dr. Claudio Campagna who runs the Wildlife
Conservation Society’s “Sea and Sky” initiative.
“The atlas helps fill in many gaps of knowledge and should serve as a
blueprint for future conservation efforts in this region.”
is an exceptional collaborative achievement; now that we know where some of the
region’s most important marine areas are, they need to receive
appropriate protection and management,” said John Croxall, Chair of BirdLife’s Global Seabird
atlas underscores the need to establish a new network of marine protected areas
that would include open-sea environments that are linked to key coastal areas.
Many of the species tracked travel vast distances between coastal breeding grounds
and feeding areas. For example, satellite data revealed that southern
elephant seals travel more than 10,000 kilometers (6,200 miles) during an
average season at sea, and an additional 10,000 kilometers in repeated vertical
dives for food.
Patagonian Sea is a remarkable intersection of global physics, marine
biodiversity, and climate and economic change,” said Dr. Steven E. Sanderson,
President and CEO of the Wildlife Conservation Society. “The Atlas of the Patagonian Sea will advance
conservation of this region and can serve as a roadmap for the creation and
management of future marine protected areas – of which there are precious
list of species tracked for the atlas includes five species of albatross, three
species of petrel, four varieties of penguin, two fur seal species, the South
American sea lion, and the southern elephant seal.
completion of the Atlas of the Patagonian
Sea is due in large part to the generosity and long-standing support
of the Liz Claiborne and Art Ortenberg Foundation for the WCS “Sea and
Sky” initiative. Additionally, WCS’s conservation work in this
region has been supported by the Mitsubishi Foundation for the Americas and Mr.
and Mrs. James M. Large, Jr.
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