Inventors: Amy Kukulya, Tom Austin, Frederic Jaffre, and Robin Littlefield
Patent No. US10,691,993 B2
Overview: Revealing how ocean species operate and forage is fundamental to their protection and ecosystem preservation. Currently, there are small commercial tags used for tracking & observation of ocean species available to the scientific community; however, they limit spatial tracking and detection to moored receiver locations or active pinging and recording from a surface vessel. This limits information acquisition about detailed behaviors leaving gaps in understanding of the dynamic movement of marine animals. Pop-up archival transmitting (PAT) tags are also used but fail to allow for direct behavioral observations. Scientists & researchers need to be able to make direct observations to build insight into foraging and mating behaviors.
Technology: Smart Tag is a miniature, long-endurance acoustic tag to track a wide variety of marine animals from finfish to whales. The tag has Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) tracking and imaging capability - better suited to unassisted animal tracking than current satellite methods, enabling two-way communication & increased range. Data from the system gives scientists bathymetry, CTD data, water currents, sidescan sonar, dissolved oxygen, video, and fluorescence in order to compliment the animal’s acoustic track for periods less than 24 hours. The Smart Tag is a simple off-the-shelf, affordable tag focusing on small size with up to 30 days of tracking capability. The miniaturization will open up opportunities for tracking animals from giant tarpon to eagle rays.