MEOP - Marine Mammals Exploring the Oceans Pole to Pole

Project summary

Marine Mammal Exploration of the Oceans Pole to Pole (MEOP) is deploying state-of-the-art animal-borne CTD (Conductivity-Temperature-Depth) tags on strategically chosen, deep-diving marine mammal species to explore their current movement patterns, behaviour and habitat utilization in Polar Regions.
Concomitant with the sampling of ecological data sets on these top predators, the animals will themselves (via the equipment they carry) collect a vast, high-precision oceanographic data set from logistically difficult areas of ocean in Polar Seas at the fringes of the North and South Atlantic and the South Pacific that are strategically important to climate and the ocean modelling.
Cooperation between programmes within the International Polar Year (IPY) provides MEOP with comprehensive, synoptic oceanographic coverage that will allow us, for the first time ever at this level, to quantify factors determining habitat selection by key polar marine mammal species.  The oceanographic data collected in MEOP also provides otherwise unobtainable oceanographic data sets collected at natural hot-spots of productivity, as input data to physically-oriented modelling projects (e.g. Mercator, Southern Ocean State Estimate, and the Bipolar Atlantic Thermohaline Circulation Programme). 
The cross-disciplinary merging of classical oceanography and marine mammal ecology in this programme will significantly advance our understanding of the world’s oceans and top predators that live in them.  MEOP has strong potential to be an ‘IPY favourite’ with the public; marine mammals can serve as polar ambassadors that highlight – the need for good ecosystems management, wise fisheries practices, good toxicology legislation, the risk of climate change impacts, and the need for a broad understanding of whole ocean systems.  The programme is timely given the predictions for ecosystem changes in both Arctic and Antarctic systems within the coming decades due to climate change, in addition to increasing fisheries and tourism activities in both the Arctic and Antarctic.


The MEOP research consortium deploys Conductivity-Temperature-Depth Satellite Relay Data Loggers (CTD-SRDLs) on hooded seals in the Arctic at several locations and on crabeater, Weddell and southern elephant seals in the Antarctic.The CTD-SRDL has been developed by the Sea Mammal Research Unit in St Andrews, Scotland, in collaboration with Valeport Ltd. Inspiration, funding and intellectual input to make this possible have been provided by a large number of biologists, oceanographers and engineers. For more details, see the technical page on the SEaOS website.

Latest updates

Two years of MEOP South deployments

Wednesday April 01 2009

Seal tracks During the two years of CTD-SRDL deployments in the Southern Ocean and Antarctic waters within MEOP, almost 68,000 CTD profiles have been collected.

Preliminary results from MEOP Norway

Wednesday April 01 2009

Seal tracks MEOP Norway deployed 3 tags on hooded seals in the summer moulting season in July of 2007 in the West Ice. This was followed by the deployment of 17 additional tags on this species in the breeding season in March of 2008 (a little to the south of the moulting deployments), just north of Jan Mayen Island.