TEMPO voyage

Quantifying krill abundance for krill monitoring and management off the Australian Antarctic Territory.
Voyage No


29 Jan, 2021


24 Mar, 2021




Chief Scientist

Dr So Kawaguchi


Australian Antarctic Division

Voyage summary

Research voyage to Antarctica to investigate the distribution, density and connectivity of populations of Antarctic krill, and better understand the distribution and contribution of deep-sea krill to overall krill biomass.

The voyage is named TEMPO (Trends in Euphausiids off Mawson, Predators, and Oceanography) and is led by Chief Scientist Dr So Kawaguchi , Australian Antarctic Division (AAD).

The conceptual understanding of krill life history has been largely based on research within the epipelagic zone (surface to 250m). However, recent observations indicate that krill can exist down to the abyssal zone (deeper than 2000m). 

This research voyage will use lowered instruments and moorings to obtain full-depth vertical profiles of krill density. Researchers will also study krill behaviour at the scale of a) the individual, b) swarms, and c) groups of swarms, using advanced echo sounders on RV Investigator. This research will inform the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources’ (CCAMLR) on the sustainable management of the krill fishery in waters off Australia’s Antarctic Territory near Mawson research station and Amery Ice Shelf.

The voyage also includes the following research projects:

  • Deployment of 12 Argo floats: BCG and Standard (Prof Tom Trull and Prof Steve Rintoul, CSIRO – shore-based)
  • CAPRIX: Cloud Aerosol Precipitation Radiation Interactions eXperiment (Dr Alain Protat, BOM shore-based)

The science team on this voyage includes 31 participants from six institutions, including CSIRO, Australian Antarctic Division (AAD), Australian Antarctic Program Partnership (AAPP), Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) and University of Sydney. 

COVID-19 Protocols

To safeguard the health and well-being of participants, strict COVID-19 protocols will apply to all activities on this voyage, including testing of all participants for COVID-19 prior to departure.

For further information about the MNF COVID-19 Protocols, visit Restart of at-sea operations following COVID-19 shutdown

Voyage outcomes

Protecting the unique environment and biological systems of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean is of Australia’s national interest. More than 40% of Antarctica is Australian Antarctic Territory (AAT), with a long strip of Exclusive Economic Zone along the extensive coastline.

Australia has a strong reputation as a responsible manager of and participant in Antarctic fisheries. We works with other countries to ensure ecologically sustainable fisheries and to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

This voyage will help ensure orderly development of the krill fishery by updating the biomass estimate and improving the understanding of the region’s ecosystem to revise the catch limit for Antarctic krill in waters off part of the AAT where the krill fishery has recently re-started and is likely to expand in the future.

Voyage blog: Women krilling it in Antarctica

In the icy waters off Antarctica, a team of women are leading the way while trawling for answers about Antarctic krill. Scientists estimate there are more than 400 million tonnes of krill in the Southern Ocean around Antarctica. However, for krill to be sustainably fished, we need to know how much is safe to catch without leaving predators hungry and harming the environment.
Read more on CSIROscope
Two people in high vis gear wearing life jackets work on a large piece of scientific equipment with an ocean horizon behind them.
Maddie Brasier, IMAS marine biologist, preparing krill trawl equipment. Image: So Kawaguchi.