Animal Tracking

Summary

The Animal Tracking Facility is one of eleven facilities of the Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS). It represents the higher biological monitoring of the marine environment for the IMOS program.

Currently the Animal Tracking Facility uses acoustic technology, CTD satellite trackers and bio-loggers to monitor coastal and oceanic movements of marine animals from the Australian mainland to the sub-Antarctic islands and as far south as the Antarctic continent.

The Animal Tracking Facility is set up to collect data over a long period of time. This sustained approach will enable researchers to assess the effects of climate change, ocean acidification and other physical changes that affect animals within the marine environment.

Currently, a large range of fish, sharks and mammals are collecting a wide range of data. This includes behavioural and physical data such as depth, temperature, salinity and movement effort of individual marine animals.

This data is freely available via the IMOS Ocean Portal and can be overlayed with data from other IMOS facilities.

Aims

  • Form a national network and increase collaboration between acoustic telemetry researchers;

  • Invest in over 500 permanent, strategically located receivers to maximise national benefit and form a continental array with existing infrastructure;

  • Lead the Southern hemisphere section of an internationally coordinated Marine Animal Tracking program, i.e. the Ocean Tracking Network (OTN);

  • Act as a central data repository from collaborating institutes and researchers around the nation;

  • Assess climate change in the Southern Ocean.

Sub-Facilities

Currently a large range of fish, sharks, reptiles, birds and mammals are collecting a wide range of data. This includes behavioural and physical data such as the depth, temperature, salinity and movement effort of individual marine animals.

The acoustic telemetry equipment was implemented in strategically chosen locations around Australia to provide connectivity between regional projects since 2007. The research infrastructure consists of 16 arrays including 257 stations; eight of those arrays including (132 stations) are configured as curtain arrays or coastal gates aiming to detect species travelling along coastlines. In addition to the arrays deployed by IMOS there are a number of arrays and curtains that have been installed across Australia by other research institutes and universities. The Animal Acoustic Telemetry community has worked to make these arrays visible through the Australian Ocean Data Network (AODN) Portal and the Animal Tracking Database. Currently, (October 2015) there are 2110 receiving stations visible through the database.

The Animal Tracking Facility also deploys CTD trackers and bio-loggers on Australian fur seals and sea lions, New Zealand fur seals, Southern elephant seals, Weddell seals, Emperor penguins and short-tail shearwaters. CTD satellite trackers and bio-loggers currently deployed on a large range of animals are collecting a wide range of data. This includes behavioural and physical data such as the depth, temperature, salinity and movement effort of individual marine animals.

Prof Rob Harcourt
P: +61 (02) 9850 7970
E: Robert.harcourt(at)mq.edu.au