Deployment of an Operational System for Acquiring and Disseminating Oceanographic and Behavioral Data Telemetered from Tagged Sharks
Recent advances in animal telemetry include successful testing and calibration of tag-borne sensors (oxygen, temperature, depth, ambient light), development and refinement of data compression and transmission algorithms, and, crucially, the deployment and testing of land-based relay receivers that dramatically improved data throughput as compared with data acquired solely via the Argos satellite system. Incorporation of fast acquisition GPS capability into shark tags now allows greatly improved geolocation accuracy regarding the site of origin of the collected data. In addition to the sharks’ locations, this new generation of tags records important oceanographic data, such as ocean temperature and oxygen profiles, and sea surface temperature. “Virtual cast” software transcribes animal-acquired environmental data into a format analogous to a CTD (Conductivity, Temperature, and Depth) cast onboard the tag. Data will be made available in near-real time to databases that inform models to predict ocean circulation patterns (e.g., to improve weather forecasting). This is the first example of using “sharks as oceanographers.”
Shark tracks are made available through the Hawai’i Tiger Shark Tracking website provided by the Pacific Islands Ocean Observing System (PacIOOS) and temperature profiles will be made available through the Animal Telemetry Network Data Assembly Center.