Natalia Ribeiro Santos

Natalia Ribeiro Santos

Seals in Electric Hats: Ocean Secrets Revealed!

PhD Candidate, Oceanography
Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies,
University of Tasmania

Young Tassie Scientists 2019, 2020, 2021

Born in Brazil, I grew up wanting to be an astronaut, an actress, a writer and a journalist. Nowadays I am a physical oceanographer!

I have been fascinated by Antarctica since I got involved in science. I look at how climate change effects the ocean, which means I have been working on boats, on computers, with equipment both large and small in Antarctica and at home. At the moment, I am doing research at the Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies, surrounded by other scientists working to understand the ocean. One of my favourite things is to be out on the sea!

My current project focuses on the melting of ice shelves in East Antarctica and how this input of freshwater affects the overall ocean circulation. To measure the temperature and salinity (saltiness) of the water in the region, I get to use special marine explorers to do the swimming work for me: elephant seals!

We attach a device (an electric hat) to their heads that contains salinity, temperature and pressure sensors and they transmit all the data they collect to us via satellite. After a year or so, the device falls off, and their contribution to our research is done.


Follow Natalia on Twitter: @_ribeirosantosn


Watch Natalia’s videos below!

Introducing Natalia Ribeiro: (suitable for all ages)

A day in the life of a Physical Oceanographer: (suitable for all ages)

Problem Solving – Using Elephant Seals to track ocean currents! (suitable for all ages)