Wednesday, March 9, 2011

NOAA To Track Marine Mammals

For the first time, data from electronic tags attached to marine animals will be incorporated into the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS®), a NOAA-led national partnership committed to enhance our ability to collect, deliver, and use ocean information.

According to NOAA, the data will help scientists better understand how marine animals move with the flow of tides and currents and provide insight into how they may alter their behavior or migration patterns in response to climate change.

“The vastness of the ocean limits our ability to observe,” said Barbara Block, Prothro professor of marine sciences at Stanford University. “This technology is leading to profound advancements in our understanding of these animals and how they interact with the ocean. This knowledge translates to a better understanding of our planet and emerging issues on climate change.”

Scientists began widely using marine animal tagging technology in the 1990’s on tuna, sharks, sea turtles, seals, whales, salmon, squid and crustaceans, among others. Sensors track the animals over long distances for multiple years, collecting valuable data below the surface from remote and difficult to reach environments where conventional oceanographic sensing techniques are technically or economically unfeasible.

However, data are collected in different ways for varying applications. A major challenge is to better synchronize the many different tagging programs and improve data sharing to the broader ocean science community.

Churchill Grimes, Ph.D., director of NOAA Fisheries’ Santa Cruz Laboratory and Barbara Block, Prothro professor of marine sciences at Stanford University joined IOOS and other federal, state and academic scientists recently in Santa Cruz, Calif., to establish a framework for integrating biological observations to the IOOS, which is expected to begin as early as this fall.

NOAA defines IOOS as a federal, regional and private-sector partnership working to enhance the ability to collect, deliver and use ocean information. IOOS delivers the data and information needed to increase understanding of oceans and coasts, so that decision-makers can act to improve safety, enhance the economy and protect the environment.

For more information, visit:

U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System:

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