Satellite tracking

Linking animals to their ocean environments

The use of satellite-based techniques has revolutionised the study of migrating marine animals in the past few years. It has improved basic knowledge of oceans, species, and key processes linking apex predators to their ocean environments.

The Bull Shark Tagging Programme started in 2003 on Walker's Cay, Bahamas, with the attachment of six pop-up satellite archival tags to bull sharks. These state-of-the-art satellite tags are externally attached to the study animals and collect and store depth (pressure), temperature and light intensity data at pre-programmed time intervals. After a pre-programmed deployment time, the tags automatically detach and pop to the surface where they start downloading the archived data via ARGOS satellites. The so retrieved data give insight into the horizontal and vertical movements of the animals as well as the physical properties of their environment.

To date, a total of 20 pop-up satellite archival tags were deployed to bull sharks in the Bahamas and Fiji and 3 tags to whale sharks in Mozambique.