Although there has been a considerable international research effort in the Southern Ocean during later years, there are still large gaps in knowledge about the Antarctic marine ecosystem in general and krill as a key ecological and economical species in particular. The main reasons for this are the enormous size of the area and the difficulties of conducting research cruises in these waters due to high costs, complicated logistics and specialized scientific expertise.
With the main basis in a comprehensive research cruise to the Southern Ocean in 2008 as part of the International Polar Year, the project focused on two major tasks: firstly to study acoustic properties of Antarctic krill and mackerel icefish and secondly to investigate krill population demography and trophic relations of the main pelagic communities in the little studied area around the Bouvet Island.
The abundance of krill in the sea is estimated based on hydroacoustics and a prioritized work in AKES was related to acoustic properties of Antarctic krill. Such work is essential in order to make reliable abundance estimates. In AKES, this was studied both from a theoretical point of view and in the field using special equipment including moorings and a submersible probe.
The AKES survey crossed extensive areas both in north-south and east-west directions, and another focus area of the project was distribution, abundance and biological properties of Antarctic krill and krill swarms in relation to the oceanography.
During the AKES survey quite some time was spent in the areas surrounding the Bouvet Island. This area is very little studied and different ecosystem components here including plankton, fish and squid were investigated. In addition, krill distribution and demographical characteristics were described.