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.
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.
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.
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?
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!
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.
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Good engineering designs are those that work in the real world; bad designs are those that don’t. If we agree to set our egos aside and let the real world be our guide, we can resolve nearly any disagreement.
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