What is animal telemetry?
Animal telemetry, the science of gathering information on the movement and behavior of marine organisms using animal-borne sensors, or tags, is a rising star in the field of ocean observing. And over time, continuous, long-term observations illustrate not only animal movements but also help us see the signs and understand the effects of changes to the ecosystems they inhabit.
“Placing tags on marine animals has allowed the animal to show us their true range, use of habitat, movements and foraging behavior, and their migration corridors,” said Dr. Michael J. Weise, Program Manager of the Marine Mammals & Biology Program at the Office of Naval Research. “And importantly, we can also see how they respond to environmental and anthropogenic factors such as climate change, exposure to seismics or sonar, or other disturbances.”
As tags have decreased in size, researchers have been able to study animals ranging from six gram salmon smolts to 150 ton whales and everything in between. In addition, the capabilities of telemetry tag sensors have grown so that we are able to capture not only data about their movements, but also information about the animal (temperature, heart rate, oxygen levels), its behavior (vocalizations, breathing, tail beats), and data on their environment (external sound, temperature, salinity, light).