New device allows biologists to track seals under sea ice
August 6, 2007
Biologists have devised a new device for tracking how environmental change affects the physiology, behavior, and populations of Southern elephant seals, according to a paper published in the early online edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The instrument, known as the Conductivity-Temperature-Depth Satellite Relay Data Logger (CTD-SRDL), “tracks key physical oceanographic variables such as salinity, temperature, and depth in real time and beams the data to a satellite when the animal surfaces for air.” The device will allow researchers to track seals as they “roam inaccessible stretches of the Southern Ocean and spend much time diving beneath the ice.”
Lead author Martin Biuw of the NERC Sea Mammal Research Unit at the Gatty Marine Laboratory of the University of St Andrews in the U.K. says that the instrument can be used to study other ocean predators and may contribute to the understanding of some of the biological impacts of global climate change.
CITATION: M. Biuw, et al. (2007). Variations in behaviour and condition of a Southern Ocean top predator in relation to in-situoceanographic conditions. PNAS early online edition August 6, 2007.