During the past ten years the IMOS Animal Tracking Facility have deployed 400 Satellite Relay Data Loggers (SRDLs) on seals and sea lions off South Australia, New South Wales, and in the Southern Ocean to explore how marine mammal behaviour relates to their oceanic environment. Those miniaturised loggers, developed at the University of St Andrews Sea Mammal Research Unit, collect high resolution temperature, salinity and depth observations which are then transmitted in near real time via the Argos satellite system. This unique data collection method provides oceanographers with temperature and salinity profiles over long time periods from regions of the Southern Ocean and coastal shelf regions that are difficult to sample by other means (e.g. beneath the winter sea ice).
Alongside observations from Argo floats, gliders, and moorings, IMOS OceanCurrent is using CTD measurements collected by those animal-borne devices to create visual representations of water movement, sea surface temperature, ocean colour and sea surface height around Australia and in the Southern Ocean. These maps are made publicly available and inform research into areas such as the interaction between currents, sea-level and climate, and have numerous practical applications (e.g. commercial shipping, fishing, and recreational activities).
The seals’ CTD measurements that are used to create the representations are available for download via the AODN portal, and users are now able to visualise the IMOS OceanCurrent hydrographic plots when clicking on a given seal track or profile, by opening the “Get Feature Information” pop-up in Step-2 of the AODN Portal.