Antarctica Update: Happy International Seal Day!

22 March 2018 by Michelle

Hello Tomnod Crowd!

You’ve been hard at work for the better part of six months, searching intently for seals on the vast icescape that we call Antarctica and the Southern Ocean. The task is not easy (believe me I know!) and it’s often strenuous: which is why I wanted to check in and celebrate International Seal Day with you. This day was declared by the US Congress on March 22, 1982 to promote awareness of seals. What better day to share what you’ve already helped us to accomplish, and what we have up our sleeves next:

Ok, so as you might imagine, now our team of scientists is getting into the “good stuff” – the “good stuff” being statistical analysis, continent-wide modeling, and lots of paper-writing! So what do we have up our sleeves next? Well, for starters my colleagues and I are going to present our work so far (all thanks to YOU!) at a couple science conferences this (northern-hemisphere) spring and summer. In the meantime, we are hoping you’ll continue to help us finish up searching the remaining 10% of coastline, after which will be really, REALLY fun… because then we are going back to actually tagging seals!

That’s right, after the continent-wide campaign is done the idea is we are going back to the places where seals live and asking for you to help us tag them to get a population count – which will be incredibly rewarding, at least for me. We can’t wait to get that started, and to get going quicker, please do help us on the home stretch!

On international seal day or ANY day, be a part of current seal research, no matter where you live!

Join us, will you??

All my gratitude,


Michelle LaRue is a wildlife ecologist at the University of Minnesota, interested in understanding broad-scale populations of marine and terrestrial predators, particularly in polar regions. She uses high-resolution satellite imagery to understand biogeography, population status, and drivers of population change in emperor penguins, Adelie penguins, Weddell seals, polar bears, and walrus.