Markus founded and manages Wildlife Technology Frontiers in Seward, Alaska. He has been working as a Marine Scientist for the past 40 years. He has used biotelemetry as a tool since the early 1980’s on many species including pinnipeds, seabirds and reptiles. He has been instrumental in the development, integration and application of novel sensors and techniques for marine predator telemetry.
Amy is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, within the Marine Ecotoxicology and Trophic Assessment Lab (METAL). Her research focuses on behavioral and spatial wildlife ecology; specifically, the movement ecology, individual strategies, and predator prey dynamics of marine top predators (e.g. sharks, pinnipeds, seabirds). Much of her recent work has focused on northern ocean regions that have previously, and are currently, experiencing rapid, large-scale environmental changes, and she uses field and laboratory techniques to answer conservation and management questions related to population decline/expansion, interactions with fisheries, or climate change.
Julie studies the movement and behavior of fish species using electronic tags (acoustic telemetry, archival tags, and Pop-up Satellite Tags). She has 20 years of experience tracking fish and crab species in Alaska including king and Tanner crabs, Pacific halibut, Pacific cod, Pacific sleeper sharks, and salmon sharks. She is the owner of Kingfisher Marine Research, LLC, which provides comprehensive support for marine animal electronic tagging studies.
Nadia is a senior studying biology at the University of Alaska Anchorage for a future career in wildlife and field research biology. She is an undergraduate student but has interned and assisted in projects with wildlife organizations like the USGS and FWS. Through these projects, Nadia has gained experience working with various marine mammals, fish, and herptiles, and has practiced methods including external tagging, sampling, telemetry tracking, and husbandry. Nadia’s favorite shark is the tiger, but she equally loves them.
Telemetry is the science and technology of measuring things remotely that allows information to be obtained by a wire, wireless radio, satellite, or via a data recorder or other device such as an electronic tag.
We use telemetry tags to study animal behavior, functions, and their environment when we cannot directly observe or collect such data. Modern electronic tags use sensors such as pressure and temperature sensors to monitor animals and the environment. They store or archive information from sensors or transmit information to a nearby receiver or a satellite.
Historically, much simpler tags were used to mark, positively identify and follow individuals over time. Some such simple tags with numbers or color codes are still in use today. However, they only work when we can see them again through what is called a ‘resighting effort’. This might tell us if an animal is still alive, and in which areas it might be observed. Electronic tags do much more than that. 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.
Such tags serve as our ‘extended eyes’. However, this only works if we can gain access to the data recorded by the tag. Either we have to recover the tag and download the data, or we need to use a tag that can somehow transmit previously recorded data through a wireless system. Some of the tags you can learn about here through our shark tracking project use hybrid tags. These tags record data in memory, and at a pre-programmed time detach themselves from their host shark, float to the surface of the ocean, and transmit the previously recorded data in a highly condensed form.
Many conservation concerns for marine predators stem from situations where human activities and animal activities rely on the same space or use the same resources. Additionally, climate change, and the resulting environmental shifts, have become an increasingly large threat for marine predators. Even small changes in ocean temperature or coastal environments may result in
Telemetry can help us answer a number of questions that are vital to the management and conservation of these species in the face of these challenges: Do animals change their movements when there are marine heatwaves? What is the impact of less sea ice on their diet? What prey resources are important for predators in the spring? Do their migration paths cross with shipping lanes or fishing activities?