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Tracking Ocean Animals

June 15, 2015

Aquatic animal tracking via satellite telemetry leads to surprising discoveries about long-distance migratory behavior.



Juvenile Green Turtle

A juvenile green turtle carries a transmitter on its back (

Tracking aquatic animals. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Until recently, scientists knew very little about the long-distance movements of aquatic animals in the open ocean. But advances in aquatic animal telemetry now allow them to remotely track the migrations of everything from tiny fish to giant whales. Dalhousie University physiological ecologist Sara Iverson says there are constant surprises.

SARA IVERSON (Dalhousie University):

A great example was a great white shark that was tagged off of South Africa using a satellite tag. Four months later that tag was retrieved in South Africa, but when the data was downloaded, it turned out that shark had gone all the way to Australia and back within four months.


She says new tracking technologies allow scientists to study social interactions and predator-prey relationships. And remote animal tracking has become an essential tool for conserving and managing endangered species. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.