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Photo: Costa Spur

Costa Spur in Antarctica is named after UCSC professor Daniel Costa.

May 29, 2006

Two geographic sites in Antarctica named in honor of UCSC biologists

By Tim Stephens

Costa Spur and Terrie Bluff, once nameless features of the austere Antarctic landscape, have now been officially named in honor of Daniel Costa and Terrie Williams, professors of ecology and evolutionary biology at UCSC.

Both scientists have done extensive field research on marine mammals in Antarctica. The U.S. Board on Geographic Names approved the names last year, but Costa and Williams only recently found out about the honor when they received official letters and photos of the sites.

"It was a complete surprise," Costa said.

Costa Spur, Antarctica, is described as follows: "Costa Spur is a prominent spur located 4 miles southwest of Quetin Head, Daniell Peninsula, Borchgrevink Coast. The spur descends eastward to the Ross Sea and marks the southern extent of Mandible Cirque."

Costa studied seals at McMurdo Sound, South Georgia, and Livingston Island for seven field seasons starting in 1978. He was chief scientist aboard the research ship L. M. Gould for two winter cruises associated with the U.S. Southern Ocean GLOBEC projects in 2001 and 2002.

Terrie Bluff, Antarctica, is located on the side of Mt. Terror overlooking a large penguin rookery, Williams said. The official description is as follows: "Terrie Bluff is a rock bluff that rises to 1,000 meters in height. It is located 1.5 miles south-southeast of Ainley Peak, Kyle Hills on Ross Island. The steep rock bluff face marks the eastern end of a mound-shaped and mostly ice-covered elevation 0.5 mile northwest of Detrick Peak."

Williams was a U.S. Antarctic Program coprincipal investigator of hunting behavior of free-ranging Weddell seals in McMurdo Sound sea ice areas for several seasons between 1984 and 2002.

"The cool thing about Terrie Bluff is that it's not far from our research site, so we can go see it the next time we're down there," Williams said.

The geographic names and descriptions will be published in future editions of the Antarctic Gazetteer and will also be available through the U.S. Geographic Names Information System .

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