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Grouper Tracking

April 24, 2006

Many of the world’s fish species have been overfished to a tiny fraction of their original numbers. In order to rebuild one fish population, scientists in Florida are undertaking an ambitious new surveillance program.


Spying on fish. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

High-tech listening devices. Surgically implanted transmitters. Tracking thousands of subjects without their knowledge. It’s not a controversial Homeland Security program: it’s a fish research project. University of Miami marine biologist Jerry Ault and his colleagues are implanting acoustic transmitters into thousands of Florida grouper in and around a marine reserve. Then they’re re-releasing them, and listening in with underwater microphones.

JERRY AULT (University of Miami):
And the transmitter itself is pinging about 3 times a minute, and each pinger has a unique acoustic code so we can identify individual fish.

By understanding how the grouper use the protected waters, the researchers hope to figure out how to replenish their overfished population, while still keeping area fisheries well-stocked. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.