Understanding marine predators through telemetry

Marine Predator tagging

To learn more about the secret lives of marine predators in inaccessible locations and great depths, we often use sophisticated electronic data recording or transmitting devices or electronic ‘tags’ for short. Electronic tags do much more than just marking an animal for recognition and tracking. Using sophisticated sensors for pressure, acceleration/orientation, temperature, and other parameters they collect data on the behavior, physiology, interactions, and environment of their host animal even in places where we can’t follow.

understanding marine predators through tagging
Sleeper shark with a satellite-linked tag and a numbered spaghetti tag
understanding marine predators through tagging
California sea lion in surf with a satellite transmitter glued to fur

Marine ecosystems

Oceans cover over two-thirds of our planet’s surface and we rely on marine ecosystems and their coastal boundaries not just for recreation, transportation, and access to resources, but critically also for food. Alaskan seas in particular harbor an incredible wealth of marine life, and more than one-half of all fish and shellfish collected by the entire United States originates in Alaska. 

Because of the importance of coastal marine ecosystems to our culture, economy, recreation, and continued bounty, we need to ensure we properly manage and protect these important resources. That in turn requires an in-depth understanding of the many life forms that live in and depend on this complex and ever-changing ecosystem. We need to understand many aspects of intricately interlinked species, such as life cycles, prey habits, and predator-prey interactions, but also the physical and chemical characteristics of their environment that are important to them, such as temperatures, alkalinity, oxygen levels or currents, and tides.

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