Ann, such real time tracing technologies will help to identify the moving pattern of shark. Moreover I think a small modification in the system may help to extend the study to other underwater specious too. but am not clear how long (range) the signals can be transmitted through under water, which can disintegrate on long distance under the acoustics conditions.
Ann, if this is like a social network for sharks, the next step is letting them communicate with each other. With all the advances in robotics that should be something that is being researched. Then, Facebook could sell ads to them.
That is funny, naperlou, but seriously, the implications of turning these tags into a network is a great idea. If the connections between enough sea creatures were initiated, a real-time 3D view of the enviromment and creature interaction could be invaluable for understanding the interrelationships of sea dwelling creatures, and their migration patterns. This could also give early warning to adverse environmental conditions.
I like the concept. If enough variety of species could be made "trackable", then interspecies interactions as well as environmental responses might give us a wealth of information. It seems we know more about the inner workings of atoms than we do about ocean ecosystems.
Note that the sharks tagged in this article are very small compared to great whites, so tagging them is possible and a lot less dangerous. I think Scott's point is well taken--there's a huge amount that we don't know about the ocean and its ecosystems, and perhaps robotics will help us learn more.
Chuck, as you probably remember, Elizabeth did a story about great white tracking in the Pacific off San Francisco. If it works, it could be helpful on the East Coast. That is, if they could tag every great white.
Good memory, Rob! Yes, this does work, and in the future this will really give marine biologists a weapon to keep track of a number of sea creatures, sharks, of course, among them. But imagine the possibilities for tracking other types of fish and observing migration paths, depletion of fish in overfished areas and other patterns of behavior. Long-term these types of robots could prove to be valuable ecological and even economical tools. There also could be other applications for a wireless network in the sea.
I agree, Elizabeth, there are tons of applications for this type of sea tracking. It would be interesting if there were a widespread effort to tag great whites. That would be the only way to help avoid beach attacks.
Hi Rob, I agree. I wonder if this robot can track the Box Jellyfish which has been a plague to Australian Beach goers for years? Also, does the torpedoe shape of the robot seem threatening among onlookers, especially the Coast Guard, while it tracks Sand Tiger Sharks? As always, very nice article Ann!
mrdon, that's an interesting question about tagging jellyfish. The jellyfish's flesh would have to be solid enough--and they would have to be capturable without harm to them or us--to be tagged in the first place. The researchers in this project designed a special sling to hold sharks while they were tagging them. I'd bet tagging jellyfish is a lot harder. Does anyone know if there's already a tagging system for these slippery critters?
Good question about whether it could be used to track jellyfish, MrDon. My guess is that it would be difficult to tag a jellyfish -- their tissue seem too fragile. But it may depend on the nature of the tag.
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