Tom Fernald ’91, Judy Allen, Peter Stevick ’81, and Rosemary Seton of Allied Whale are traveling on M/V Ortelius, an ice-strengthened small ship designed for polar expedition cruises. The researchers are making use of their marine environment expertise to help guide passengers on the natural history trip, which is offered by Cheeseman’s Ecology Safaris.

Ortelius is an expedition vessel for 116 passengers with lots of open-deck spaces. The vessel is manned by 20 highly experienced international nautical crew, 19 international hotel crew, including stewardesses, and 7 expedition staff. The ship’s progress can be tracked here.

South Georgia sits roughly half way between the southeast coast of Argentina and the mainland of the Antarctic continent. Shaped like a stone-age knife, South Georgia is a mountainous oasis of life amongst the cold Atlantic waters. The island is home to two mountain ranges—the Salvesen and the Allardyce—which soar to a peak of almost 3,000 meters above the sea. In the summer almost 75% of the island is covered in snow, ice, and glaciers. Come winter, a covering of snow reaches right down to the water’s edge.

Ortelius' position as of October 27.Ortelius' position as of October 27.The island is also called an Antarctic Oasis because of the huge numbers of penguins and seals that breed here. The marine ecosystem is considered one of the densest examples of biodiversity in the world. Visitors can spot seals on both the land and in the waters, and a variety of whales pass through the area.

Allied Whale

Allied Whale, the marine mammal laboratory at College of the Atlantic, was founded in 1972 by faculty, staff, and students. Since its beginning, Allied Whale has been at the forefront of modern whale research and is recognized as a leader in the development of techniques used by whale biologists worldwide. Allied Whale is involved in field research projects that are far ranging, both geographically and scientifically. In addition to such research, Allied Whale houses the largest collection of information on photo-identified humpback and finback whales in the world. Allied Whale researchers were among the first to successfully use this technique to study whales.

Tom Fernald completed his internship with Allied Whale as a student at College of the Atlantic in 1990, and began working full time after his graduation in 1991. He has conducted humpback whale research in the West Indies, Bermuda, the Caribbean, the Bay of Fundy, and the Gulf of Maine. Tom Currently manages the North Atlantic Humpback Whale Catalog and the Antarctic Humpback Whale Catalog (NAHWC). He is also a member of the Allied Whale Stranding Team and Whale Disentanglement Team.

Rosemary Seton joined the Allied Whale lab at College of the Atlantic full time in 1998. She is the Marine Mammal Stranding Coordinator for the northeast region of Maine and is a research associate with the NAHWC. While completing graduate coursework at the Memorial University of Newfoundland, Rosemary investigated the ice entrapments of blue whales and other cetaceans off the coast. She has worked with large baleen whales, especially humpback whales, for over 24 years in Canada, the United States, and along the Silver Bank in the Dominican Republic.

Peter Stevick graduated College of the Atlantic in 1981 and is currently a senior scientist for the North Atlantic Humpback Whale Catalog at Allied Whale.

Judy Allen joined Allied Whale in 1978 and is currently the associate director at College of the Atlantic. Her research has involved marine mammal population studies, specifically humpback whale photo identification. She has also been the project director for the Gulf of Maine Sightings Network, the North Atlantic Humpback Whale Catalog, the Antarctic Humpback Whale Catalog, and the Years of the North Atlantic Humpback Catalog. She is also the co-author of numerous scientific papers involving cetaceans. These projects have given her the opportunity to collaborate with scientists around the globe and participate in fieldwork in Bermuda, the Gulf of Maine and the Antarctic.