California State University, Long Beach
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Website Tracks Marine Life

Published: September 19, 2016

Screenshot form Scattn website

Led by Christopher G. Lowe, a marine biology professor and director of the Shark Lab at CSULB, the Southern California Acoustic Telemetry Tracking Network (SCATTN) recently launched a new website which allows the public to follow ocean animals as they migrate along the Pacific coast. SCATTN is a collaborative group of researchers using remote acoustic communications tools to study the behavior of marine life.

“In addition to facilitating the sharing of data among researchers, this website will also provide a unique platform for people to see where marine life travels along the Southern California coastline,” said Lowe. “The public will learn more about how fish and other marine animals move, where they go and when.”

Lowe and his team have partnered with five additional research labs: California State University Northridge’s Nearshore Fisheries Lab; the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary; NOAA’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center; the Scripps Institute of Oceanography’s Semmens Lab and the University California, Santa Barbara’s McCauley Lab. The team created the site to help the public better understand the many animals with whom they share the ocean.

Each of the research labs in the SCATTN alliance may have tools to track animals in local waters, but the collaboration will now allow researchers and the public to follow animals across thousands of kilometers of ocean.

The network uses a technology known as acoustic telemetry, where researchers place an acoustic transmitter on or in a fish and that transmitter produces a unique ID code that can be detected and logged when they swim by an acoustic receiver. Receivers are placed all along the coastline and are maintained by each of the research labs.

“The great thing about this technology is that we can detect each other’s transmitters and now have an easy way to share data, thereby getting far more out of research than if we just worked independently,” said Lowe. “The website also allows us to use our resources to work faster and more efficiently. We wanted to share this information with the public so that they can now see what we observe.”

Visit the SCATTN website.