Scientists wiring oceans to protect ecosystems
Washington, Feb 18 : Scientists are wiring oceans to track the movements of deep sea creatures that could help protect marine ecosystems by revolutionizing how we understand their function, population structure, fisheries management and species' physiological and evolutionary constraints.
Barbara Block, marine sciences professor at the Stanford University's Woods Institute, is using technology to enable live feeds of animal movements relayed by a series of "ocean WiFi hotspots".
Block is studying pelagic (deep sea) creatures with telemetry tags. The miniaturisation of sensors for tags, combined with acoustic receiver-carrying mobile glider platforms and instrumented buoys, has vastly expanded researchers' capacity to obtain data from ocean organisms as tiny as bacteria and as large as blue whales, according to a Stanford statement.
Block's work is part of a larger effort to establish a global network of instruments to more comprehensively study the biosphere as it is altered - at unprecedented rates - by human activity and climate change.
Block's project, the Blue Serengeti Initiative, builds on the Tagging of Pacific Predators programme, part of the global Census of Marine Life, a decade-long study that invested $25 million in electronic tagging, enabling marine scientists from five nations to map ocean hot spots within the California Current.
These findings were presented at the 2013 American Association for the Advancement of Science symposium in Boston.