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Sea Tracking Roundup

July 21, 2006

Scientists monitoring the ocean are enlisting its inhabitants for help.


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

Marine scientists recently gathered in Halifax, Nova Scotia, to announce the Ocean Tracking Network. It’s an ambitious program to set up arrays of electronic monitors all over the world’s oceans. Scientists will outfit many thousands of marine creatures, from fish to whales, with tiny transmitters that can relay their location and local water conditions. The fish can help scientists monitor fisheries, pollution and climate change.

Researchers at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution recently tested a new underwater digital microscope that can be dragged along behind a ship. It photographs, identifies and counts tiny organisms that pass through it. They found that a type of plankton called trichodesmium—an important supplier of ocean nutrients—is three times more abundant than was thought.

I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.