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GPS Tags For Marine Animals

How Scientists Use GPS Tags For Tracking Marine Animals

If you have ever wondered how scientists are able to study marine animals in their natural habitats, the answer is through the use of tracking devices. Animals tracking has become increasingly important for marine biology and ecology researchers in recent years. Satellite tagging and satellite tracking are among the most commonly used techniques for collecting data on the movements of individual marine organisms. In this article, we will discuss how scientists and conservationists are using GPS tracking to better understand marine wildlife. As well as some examples of the experiments being conducted. Let’s dive in!

GPS Tags For Marine Animals

Types of Tracking Devices Scientists Use:There are several types of tracking devices used in marine wildlife research. One of the most commonly used is the PAT (Pop-up Archival Transmitting) tag, which is a type of satellite telemetry device that can provide location data for marine predators such as sharks and whales. Another commonly used device is the GPS tag, which uses the Global Positioning System to provide location data for animals such as sea lions and turtles. Environmental sensors can also be attached to these tags to collect data on temperature, depth, and other environmental factors.

Data Collection:Data collected through these tracking devices can be transmitted via satellite and archived for later use. This data is used by scientists to study the migration patterns and behavior of marine animals, as well as to identify important habitats and breeding grounds. The data can also be used to develop conservation efforts for these animals.

Mobile Tracking:Mobile tracking is another method used by scientists to track the movements of marine animals. This involves attaching small tags to the animals and using a tracking system to monitor their movements. Spot tags are commonly used for this purpose and can be attached to the dorsal fin of animals such as dolphins and porpoises.

Effects on Animals:While tracking technology has greatly improved our understanding of marine organisms, it is important to note that it can have negative effects on the animals being studied. For example, tags can affect an animal’s ability to swim, feed, or avoid predators. It is therefore important for researchers to carefully consider the potential effects on animals before attaching any tracking devices.

Related Article: GPS Tags For Cattle

How The Smithsonian Institution Is Tracking Sharks & Sting Rays With GPS Tags

Acoustic telemetry is a revolutionary technology for tracking aquatic species, allowing scientists to monitor organisms beneath the water surface. At the Smithsonian Institution, scientists use acoustic telemetry to study marine organisms such as sharks and rays. This groundbreaking technology uses acoustic transmitters and receivers to follow tagged individuals as they move throughout the Chesapeake Bay and along annual migrations around the world. The transmitter sends out unique high-frequency pulses, which are recorded when a tagged individual passes within range of a receiver. Sound travels four times faster in water than in air, making it possible for receivers to detect the unique codes. This technology allows scientists to track fish that were previously difficult to study, such as those that never come to the surface.

Unlike GPS tags, which rely on the organism coming to the surface for a certain amount of time to transmit its location to a satellite, acoustic telemetry functions entirely underwater. This enables scientists to track species that rarely or never come to the surface. However, the dependence on receiver presence throughout the entire study area of the species is a limitation of this method of tracking. It requires some existing knowledge of the tagged individual’s movement range and an effective array of receivers in that area. For example, Smithsonian scientists faced this issue when studying Blacktip Sharks, as the individual was not detected by another acoustic array until it reached Charleston, SC. The exact pathway that the individual took is unknown due to the lack of receivers along the path.

Nevertheless, acoustic telemetry has many advantages, including its ability to track fish that were previously difficult to study. Moreover, more receiver arrays will be deployed as acoustic telemetry becomes a more widely practiced method of research, providing more complete data on the movements of individual organisms.

In contrast, GPS tags are effective for studying marine mammals that have to come to the surface to breathe but less consistent for fish that don’t have to come to the surface at all. These tags rely on the atmosphere for communication and the Argos satellites to archive data. Pat tags are an example of such GPS tags used for tracking sea turtles like Olive Ridleys.

Tracking Wild Salmon With GPS

Salmon have always mystified people with their can-do attitude, swinging upstream and against the heavy river currents. However, scientists have recently been learning a great deal about salmon and other marine animals thanks to advanced GPS tracking systems that allow marine biologists to study movement, migration patterns, and more. With a recent decline in wild salmon populations across the world that scientists attribute to overfishing, warmer waters, dam construction, and other variables, GPS tracking system technology is giving scientists a better understanding of how the majestic and strong-willed fish live.

GPS trackers can provide marine biologists with crucial information related to the fish’s survival, and may help scientists better understand the severity of environmental pressures placed upon the fish by human interaction. Salmon are a vital food source for many people across the world, and their prosperity is directly related to our interaction with animals. Loss of suitable freshwater habitat, degradation of stream pools, and water pollution are only some of the many hurdles the salmon population faces in trying to persevere and prosper in today’s world.


What Is Animal Migration?

Animal migration is the regular movement of animals from one place to another, often to find food or to breed. In the case of marine animals, migration can take place over long distances and is often tied to seasonal changes in water temperature and food availability. Studying the migration patterns of marine animals can provide valuable information on their behavior and ecology.

How Do GPS Tags Work For Tracking Marine Life?

GPS tags use the Global Positioning System to provide location data for animals. The tags are equipped with a GPS receiver that can pick up signals from GPS satellites orbiting the Earth. By triangulating the signals from multiple satellites, the GPS receiver can determine the animal’s exact location on Earth. The tags can also collect other data, such as depth and temperature, which can provide insight into the animal’s behavior and habitat use.

What Is Satellite Telemetry?

Satellite telemetry is the use of satellite technology to track the movements of animals. This technology involves attaching a tracking device, such as a satellite tag, to the animal and using satellite communication to transmit data back to researchers. Satellite telemetry is particularly useful for studying the movements of marine animals, which can travel vast distances and may be difficult to track using other methods.

What Is The Journal of Experimental Marine Biology?

The Journal of Experimental Marine Biology is a scientific journal that publishes research on the study of animal life in the ocean. The journal covers a wide range of topics, including marine ecology, animal behavior, physiology, and conservation. It is a leading publication in the field of marine biology and is widely read by researchers, students, and professionals in the field.

How Do GPS Tracking Devices Help With Marine Conservation Efforts?

GPS tracking systems provide valuable data on the movements and behavior of marine animals, which can be used to develop conservation efforts to protect these animals and their ecosystems. For example, tracking data can help identify important habitats and breeding grounds for marine animals, which can be targeted for conservation efforts. Tracking data can also help identify threats to marine animals, such as fishing gear or pollution, which can inform conservation strategies. Overall, GPS tags are an important tool for understanding the behavior and ecology of marine animals, which is critical for effective conservation.

Ryan Horban
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