The Centenary Scholarship which marks the 100th Anniversary of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Trans- Antarctic Endurance expedition has been awarded to Dr Alastair Baylis, an Australian scientist, for his sea lion project: “Rediscovering Falklands Ocean Sentinels”.
Dr Baylis from Deakin University, Australia along with co-investigators, Dr Iain Staniland (British Antarctic Survey) and Dr Joseph Hoffman (Bielefeld University, Germany), will study Southern sea lions (Otaria flavescens) at the Falkland Islands.
A census of sea lions will be taken and satellite tags will be deployed on sea lions and fur seals breeding in the Jason Islands, North West of West Falkland. Finally small (3 mm) samples of sea lion skin will be taken for genetic analysis –the first detailed genetic analysis of the Southern sea lion– in a programme led by Dr Hoffman. In making this award the Stanley Committee of the Shackleton Scholarship Fund noted that the project was particularly topical as hydrocarbon exploration was under way in some of the areas to be studied. The project will also be supported by funding from the University of Bielefeld, Deakin University, the British Antarctic Survey, the Falkland Islands Government and Sea World.
Dr Alastair Baylis was born in Reading England in 1979. He holds degrees from the Universities of Tasmania and Latrobe (Melbourne) and has a doctorate from Adelaide University. From 2009-2012 he was conservation officer with Falklands Conservation in Stanley. In 2012 he was awarded a Shackleton Scholarship of £2,000 to study the at-sea movements of breeding female sea lions.
The Shackleton Scholarship Fund was established in 1995 to commemorate the lives of the explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton and his son the statesman Edward, Lord Shackleton. In a normal year the Fund awards scholarships amounting to a total of £12-15,000 for academic research into South Atlantic subjects and for visits which will improve the quality of life in the Falkland Islands. However an exceptional Centenary Scholarship of up to £10,000 was offered this year to commemorate the departure of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ship Endurance for the Antarctic in 1914. This scholarship attracted applications from top class natural and social scientists from several countries.