In this post we are going to talk about satellite tagging, a methodology for the studying of cetacean animals.
Satellite tagging is an information obtaining process thanks to systems present in animals: in this case, present in cetaceans previously captured and installed the transmitter at dorsal fin (in porpoises, bottlenose dolphins and killer whales) or at blubber (in humpback whale, southern right whale and blue whale). In short-term behaviour studies, it’s possible to join the transmitters to skin with suction pads. This systems can accumulate the information (data loggers) or they can send it by satellite. Often, these systems have video camaras to show what the animals are watching each moment.
The information got with this method allows to study the movements, behaviour, population structure and the recovery of populations.
This system records lots of data with different equipments that give information about behaviour (sounds, swimming speed…), fisiology (heartbeat rate, body temperature, stomach temperature…) and the environment (depth, water temperature, light intensity, sounds…). The recording interval can be regulated, depending the goal of study.
This system has some advantages: to keep information spend less energy than its transmisson, are smaller and less bulky and it can save lots of information. The problem is the difficulty of getting the equipment again.
INFORMATION TRANSMISSION SYSTEMS
The most important is telemetry via satellite, with a transmitter that sends the data via satellite to a receiver station with a computer. These systems get information about the animal position, immersion depth, swimming speed and water temperature to study the environment factors that affect to distribution, movements and feeding behaviour.
Them use is restricted: they can just send the information in the water surface, the environment sounds are overlaped with cetacean sounds and they need lots of energy. The advantage is the hability of giving information in real time to a working center.
The bibliography used to write this post is:
ANILAM, RESEARCH AND CONSERVATION, Métodos de investigación de cetáceos: http://www.alnilam.info/index.php/es/investigacion/inv-metodos
AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT, DEPARTMENT OF THE ENVIRONMENT, Non-lethal research techniques for studying whales: http://www.environment.gov.au/coasts/species/cetaceans/publications/fs-techniques.html
CIRCE, Metodologías aplicadas por CIRCE en sus programas de investigación: http://www.circe.biz/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=86&Itemid=180&lang=es
TRUJILLO, F & DIAZGRANADOS, M. C., Curso de técnicas de estudio de mamíferos acuáticos: manual básico, La Isla de los Delfines – Fundación Omacha, 2005